Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Alain Mabanckou.

Alain Mabanckou’s Black Moses has won the 2018 Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. The Congolese writer and UCLA professor’s 11th novel, which was longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, won in the fiction category, ahead of finalists American Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing, which won the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction, and South Africa-based Nigerian Yewande Omotoso’s The Woman Next Door, which was longlisted for the 2016 Baileys Prize. The announcement was made at a gala in Northwest Washington.

Founded in 1993 and named in honor of American writers Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright, the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award aims to “encourage writers of African descent and to ensure the survival of literature by black writers.”

Written in French, Black Moses is translated by Helen Stevenson and published by Serpent’s Tail. Here is a description of the 220-page novel by its publishers.

It’s 1970, and in the People’s Republic of Congo a Marxist-Leninist revolution is ushering in a new age. But over at the orphanage on the outskirts of Pointe-Noire where young Moses has grown up, the revolution has only strengthened the reign of terror of Dieudonné Ngoulmoumako, the institution’s corrupt director. So Moses escapes to Pointe-Noire, where he finds a home with a larcenous band of Congolese Merry Men and among the Zairean prostitutes of the Trois-Cents quarter.

But the authorities won’t leave Moses in peace, and intervene to chase both the Merry Men and the Trois-Cents girls out of town. All this injustice pushes poor Moses over the edge. Could he really be the Robin Hood of the Congo? Or is he just losing his marbles? Black Moses is a larger-than-life comic tale of a young man obsessed with helping the helpless in an unjust world. It is also a vital new extension of Mabanckou’s extraordinary, interlinked body of work dedicated to his native Congo, and confirms his status as one of our great storytellers.

The judges described Black Moses as “a funny, efficiently-rendered picaresque tale” that “superbly traces the hero’s psychic collapse.” Mabanckou, they stated, writes about the “the perils of tyrannical government” in a setting that “is vivid and engrossing.”

“Black writers continue to push through the barriers that have limited our ability to speak our truth to the world,” said Melanie Hatter, chair of the Hurston/Wright Foundation. “As we navigate this political environment that pits white against people of color; against immigrants; against women, our voices are the stitching that weaves through the tapestry of America. This exceptional array of writers is leading the conversation on the black experience across the United States and throughout the world.”

The Nonfiction Award went to Tiya Miles’s Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits. The Debut Novel Award went to Ladee Hubbard’s The Talented Ribkins. And the Poetry Award went to Evie Shockley’s Semiautomatic.

Other honourees at the event include: poet and playwright Ntozake Shange, author of the choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” who received the North Star Award, and Charles Henry Rowell, founder and editor of Callaloo, who received the Madam C.J. Walker Award for “exceptional innovation.”

Brittle Paper congratulates Alain Mabanckou.

READ: An Excerpt from Alain Mabanckou’s Man Booker Prize-nominated Black Moses

READ: Alain Mabanckou Talks Tutuola, Exile, and His Love of Fashion 

Tags: , , , , ,

About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. He sits on the judging panels of The Miles Morland Writing Scholarships and of The Gerald Kraak Prize. He is Nonfiction 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 Curator at 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 work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. 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 has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. He is currently nominated for the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

“Read Salone, Build Salone”: The First Sierra Leone National Book Fair | 5-7 Dec.

SLNBF

Between December 5 to December 7, Freetown, Sierra Leone, will play host to the Sierra Leone National Book Fair—the first […]

Is There a Quota of 5 Books by African Authors for Every “Best 100 Books of 2019” List?

best of best of best of

As yet another year draws to a close, literary lists of various sorts are once again filling our newsfeeds. During […]

Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans Longlisted for the 2020 Aspen Words Literary Prize

Lalami_Laila-1

Moroccan-American novelist Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans has recently been longlisted for the 2020 Aspen Words Literary Prize. Described on the Aspen Prize’s […]

Apply for SBMEN’s Workshop “Literary Criticism: Judging Dynamic Creative Writing in All Forms”| 23 November

Screen Shot 2019-11-17 at 8.57.48 PM

The Society for Book and Magazine Editors of Nigeria (SBMEN) is calling for applications to its fourth (and last) editing […]

They Say There are Over 50 Translations of Things Fall Apart. Here are 61.

Achebe Translation Cover

How many times have you heard or read that Things Fall Apart has been translated into over 50 languages? And yet, […]

Vol. II of 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Guest-edited by Yasmyn Belkhyr & Kayo Chingonyi, Now Available Here

20.35 Africa Issue II - graph

In November 2018, we published the debut volume of the 20.35 Africa: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry series. The first […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.