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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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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, literary journalist, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Transition, and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award for which he was shortlisted. His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He is the curator of the ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016), focuses on cities in Nigeria. The second, WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied History and Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. 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. When bored, the boy just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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