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Fiston Mwanza Mujila. Image from Bookslive.co.za.

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.”

Tram 83. Image by Zaynabtyty.

Read: Is Fiston Mujila’s “Tram 83” Misogynist Poverty Porn? Zukiswa Wanner and Richard Oduku Lead Strong Reaction to Ikhide Ikheloa’s Damning Criticism

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!

Read: Is “Tram 83” Misogynist Poverty Porn? Petina Gappah, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Ainehi Edoro Deepen Conversation as Ikhide Ikheloa and Richard Oduku Publish New Essays

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Otosirieze is Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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