Fiston Mwanza Mujila has won the 2018 Rosegger Literary Prize in Austria for his debut novel Tram 83. Mujila was shortlisted for the inaugural Brittle Paper Award for Poetry.
Founded in 1951 in memory of Austrian writer Peter Rosegger, the € 10,000 Peter Rosegger Literature Prize is awarded triennially by the Austrian province of Styria. The 2018 Prize jury, James Murua reports, comprised Alfred Kolleritsch, Angelika Klammer, Christoph Harter, Annette Knoch, Markus Jaroschka, Klaus Kastberger, and Werner Krause. They hailed Mujila as a “virtuoso narrator on his way to the world of excellent contemporary literature.”
First published in French in 2014, the novel, one of the most acclaimed from Africa in recent years, is renowned for what Professor Ato Quayson calls its “improvisational jazz rhythms.” Set in a nightclub and centered on two friends, the book has earned praised for its restless prose, for being “colourfully exotic,” and for realising its author’s philosophy of exploring the “geography of hunger.”
Translated into eight languages so far, Tram 83 was nominated for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, and won the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature, a French Voices Award, and the 2017 Internationaler Literaturpreis Award for its German translation. Here is a description of the book on Amazon.
Two friends, one a budding writer home from abroad, the other an ambitious racketeer, meet in the most notorious nightclub—Tram 83—in a war-torn city-state in secession, surrounded by profit-seekers of all languages and nationalities. Tram 83 plunges the reader into the modern African gold rush as cynical as it is comic and colorfully exotic, using jazz rhythms to weave a tale of human relationships in a world that has become a global village.
In April 2017, the English translation of Tram 83—done by Roland Glasser—sparked, on the African literary scene, the fiercest literary conversation of the year so far, a conversation on what makes for misogyny and poverty porn in writing.
Fiston Mujila will receive his award in a November 29 ceremony in the Kunsthaus Graz, the art musuem in Graz, Austria.
Congratulations to Fiston Mwanza Mujila!