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Aminatta Forna.

The Royal Society of Literature (RSL) has announced the longlist for the 2019 Ondaatje Prize, and on it are Aminatta Forna, for her fourth novel and fifth book Happiness, and Emmanuel Iduma, for his second book and first collection of essays A Stranger’s Pose.

Named after Christopher Ondaatje, the annual £10,000 Ondaatje Prize, which incorporates the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, is for a fiction, poetry or nonfiction book that evokes the “spirit of a place.” It is open only to writers who are citizens of, or are resident in, the Commonwealth or Ireland. The prize, which usually does not announce a longlist, has done so this year in celebration of its 15th anniversary.

Emmanuel Iduma. Photo credit: Victor Ehikhamenor.

Here is the longlist in full.

Rania Abouzeid No Turning Back (Oneworld)
Sam Byers Perfidious Albion (Faber & Faber)
Edward Carey Little  (Aardvark Bureau)
Jonathan Coe Middle England (Viking)
Aida Edemariam The Wife’s Tale (4th Estate)
Aminatta Forna Happiness (Bloomsbury Circus)
Gaia Holmes Where the road runs out (Comma Poetry)
Christopher Hope The Café de Move-on Blues (Atlantic Books)
Emmanuel Iduma A Stranger’s Pose (Cassava Republic)
Alice Jolly Mary Ann Sate, Imbecile (Unbound))
Patrick Langley Arkady (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
Jamal Mahjoub A Line in the River (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Sarah Moss Ghost Wall (Granta Books)
S.K. Perry Let Me Be Like Water (Melville House UK)
Donal Ryan From a Low and Quiet Sea (Doubleday)
Heidi Sopinka The Dictionary of Animal Languages (Scribe UK)
Guy Stagg The Crossway (Picador)
Malachy Tallack The Valley at the Centre of the World (Canongate)
Isabella Tree Wilding (Picador)
Adam Weymouth Kings of the Yukon (Particular Books)

The 2019 judges are RSL Fellows Sabrina Mahfouz, Michèle Roberts, and Ian Thomson.

The shortlist will be announced on 16 April, at an RSL event themed “The Spirit of a Place.” The winner will be announced a month afterwards on 13 May.

Congratulations to Aminatta Forna and Emmanuel Iduma.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young 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 attended the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he got an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies and English & Literary Studies. He 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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