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Warsan Shire is one of ten African writers elected into the Royal Society of Literature in 2018. Image from The New Yorker via Google.

Eight African writers have been elected into the Royal Society of Literature (RSL) as part of its 40 Under 40 initiative: poets Warsan Shire and Inua Ellams, novelists Sabrina MahfouzNadifa MohamedIrenosen Okojie, and Chibundu Onuzo, , and playwright Bola Agbaje. Beyond the 40 Under 40 initiative, there were two more inductees: street rapper Mojisola Adebayo and poet Kwame Dawes, as an Honorary Fellow. The announcement was done on June 28, 2018.

The Royal Society of Literature (RSL) “celebrates not only the United Kingdom’s diverse literary heritage but also the best in contemporary English language writing in Britain.” The 40 Under 40 initiative “honours the achievements of Britain’s younger writers, and introduces a new generation of writers to the Society’s existing Fellowship of over 500.”

The list was based on recommendations by a “specially convened panel of RSL Fellows,” itself based on prior “recommendations and writing samples submitted by literary agents, publishers, arts organisations, writer development agencies, theatres, and writers.” The nominating panel comprised: Tahmima Anam, Lisa Appignanesi, Helen Edmundson, Bernardine Evaristo, Lavinia Greenlaw, Alexandra Harris, David Hare, Blake Morrison, Daljit Nagra, Ali Smith, Sarah Waters, chaired by Kamila Shamsie.

The 40 Under 40 announcement was attended by Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, who was making her first public appearance as the Society’s new Patron.

See all the new RSL 2018 Fellows HERE.

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OTOSIRIEZE is a writer, literary journalist, former academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. A judge for the 2019 Gerald Kraak Award, he is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective which has published two volumes: WE ARE FLOWERS and THE INWARD GAZE. He is the curator of ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness: ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016) focuses on cities in Nigeria; WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017) focuses on professions in Nigeria. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition, and has been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship and the Gerald Kraak Award, both in 2016, and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He has completed a collection of short stories, YOU SING OF A LONGING, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, the boy just Googles Rihanna. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts editing and writing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze.

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