Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 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: , , , , ,

Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize. 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.

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

On Black and Arab Identities: Safia Elhillo’s Arab American Book Awards Acceptance Speech

Safia Elhillo - tcb book club (2)

Safia Elhillo has won the 2018 Arab American Book Award, also known as the George Ellenbogen Poetry Award, for her […]

Attend the Second Edition of the Write with Style Workshop with Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

Oris Aigbokhaevbolo (2)

Following the first edition of the Write With Style Workshop, the award-winning writer, critic, and journalist Oris Aigbokhaevbolo is hosting […]

Ngugi’s Novel, Matigari, Is Being Adapted to Film by Nollywood Director Kunle Afolayan

Kenyan author Ngugi wa ThiongÕo, Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature at UC Irvine, is on the short list for the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature, for xxx(add phrase or blurb here from award announcement; 

Chancellor quote? Christine writing and getting approved quote).

Ngugi, whose name is pronounced ÒGoogyÓ and means Òwork,Ó is a prolific writer of novels, plays, essays and childrenÕs literature. Many of these have skewered the harsh sociopolitical conditions of post-Colonial Kenya, where he was born, imprisoned by the government and forced into exile.

His recent works have been among his most highly acclaimed and include what some consider his finest novel, ÒMurogi wa KagogoÓ (ÒWizard of the CrowÓ), a sweeping 2006 satire about globalization that he wrote in his native Gikuyu language. In his 2009 book ÒSomething Torn & New: An African Renaissance,Ó Ngugi argues that a resurgence of African languages is necessary to the restoration of African wholeness.

ÒI use the novel form to explore issues of wealth, power and values in society and how their production and organization in society impinge on the quality of a peopleÕs spiritual life,Ó he has said.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s 1987 novel Matigari is being adapted to film by Nollywood director Kunle Afolayan in a co-production with yet undisclosed Kenyan […]

Safia Elhillo Makes a Fashion Statement at the Arab American Book Awards

Safia Elhillo - tcb book club (2)

From Taiye Selasi’s dreamy designer collections and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s flayed ankara sleeves and Dior collaboration to Alain Mabanckou’s dapper […]

Read Chapter One of Nuruddin Farah’s New Novel, North of Dawn

nuruddin farah boundary2.org

Celebrated Somali writer Nuruddin Farah’s new novel will be out on 4 December 2018. The 384-page North of Dawn—described as “a provocative, […]

#WeLoveBooks | Feeling and Ugly by Danai Mupotsa

welovebooks (6)

Welcome back to our weekly updates on new book finds. Feeling and Ugly by Danai Mupotsa is a gem. Feeling […]

Thanks for signing up!

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

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.