Short Story Day Africa’s presence on the literary scene is revitalising. Founded in 2011, the organisation launched a themed competition in 2013 that has evolved, by its fifth year, into the leading prize for short fiction on the continent. The prize went to Kenya’s Okwiri Oduor in 2013, South Africa’s Diane Awerbuck in 2014, South Africa’s Cat Hellisen in 2015, South Africa’s Sibongile Fisher in 2016, and most recently, Nigeria’s Emmanuel Tochukwu Okafor for the 2017 year.
The Short Story Day Africa Prize and workshops have offered important opportunities for writers on the continent, and most importantly, a space where their work is recognized based on the only thing that should matter: quality. Their works are collected in anthologies: Feast, Famine & Potluck (published 2014, for the 2013 prize), Terra Incognita (published 2015, for the 2014 prize), Water (published 2016, for the 2015 prize), Migrations (published 2017, for the 2016 prize), and ID (published 2018, for the 2017 prize).
SSDA’s emphasis on quality manifests in the way that stories from their anthologies have been honoured by other awards. Three have been shortlisted for the Caine Prize: Okwiri Oduor’s “My Father’s Head” and Efemia Chela’s “Chicken,” from Feast, Famine & Potluck, in 2014, with the former winning it, and Stacy Hardy’s “Involution,” from Migrations, in 2018. Three have been shortlisted for the inaugural Brittle Paper Award for Fiction: Sibongile Fisher’s “A Door Ajar,” TJ Benson’s “Tea,” and Megan Ross’ “Farang,” which won it—all from Migrations.
Brittle Paper has traditionally reviewed stories on the Caine Prize shortlists, and this year, we introduced our annual review of the Brunel Prize poems. We will now also be reviewing the top three short stories announced by the Short Story Day Africa Prize, yearly. In coming weeks, we will bring you reviews of the winner Emmanuel Tochukwu Okafor’s “All Our Lives” and the joint runners-up Agazit Abate’s “The Piano Player” and Michael Yee’s “God Skin.”
Congratulations, once more, to the three writers.