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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 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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