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Three African novelists have been longlisted for the inaugural Orwell Prize for Political Fiction: the Zimbabwean Novuyo Rosa Tshuma for her House of Stone, the Eritrean-Ethiopian Sulaiman Addonai for his Silence Is My Mother Tongue, and the Nigerian-British Diana Evans for her Women’s Prize finalist Ordinary People. Tshuma and Evans further currently have their novels on the 2019 Folio Prize longlist.

Sponsored by The Orwell Foundation, the Orwell Prizes are reputed to be the UK’s most prestigious prizes for political writing. The prizes—which reward “work which comes closest to George Orwell’s ambition ‘to make political writing into an art'”—come in four categories: the Orwell Prize for Political Writing, the Orwell Prize for Journalism, the Orwell Prize for Exposing Britain’s Social Evils, and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, launched last year to “reward outstanding novels and collections of short stories first published in the UK that illuminate major social and political themes, present or past, through the art of narrative.” Each of the prizes comes with £3,000.

Here is the full longlist:

  • An American Marriage, Tayari Jones, Oneworld
  • Brother, David Chariandy, Bloomsbury Publishing
  • House of Stone, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Atlantic Fiction
  • In Our Mad and Furious City, Guy Gunaratne, Tinder Press
  • Ironopolis, Glen James Brown, Parthian Books
  • Milkman, Anna Burns, Faber & Faber
  • Ordinary People, Diana Evans, Chatto & Windus
  • Perfidious Albion, Sam Byers, Faber & Faber
  • Red Clocks, Leni Zumas, The Borough Press
  • Sabrina, Nick Drnaso, Granta
  • Silence is My Mother Tongue, Sulaiman Addonia, The Indigo Press
  • The Ice Migration, Jacqueline Crooks, Pepal Tree Press

The 2019 judges are: Sam Leith, Literary Editor of The Spectator; Preti Taneja, winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize; Xine Yao, American Literature lecturer at University College, London; and the chair Tom Sutcliffe, a broadcaster.

“I’m delighted with our long-list for the first Orwell Prize for Political Fiction,” Tom Sutcliffe said. “It’s a list which acknowledges that the politics in a book can often be found between the lines, rather than on them, and that making your voice heard can sometimes be the most political act of all.”

The 2019 shortlists will be out this May, with the winner announced at the Orwell Prize Ceremony in London, on 25 June, George Orwell’s 116th birthday.

Congratulations to Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Sulaiman Addonai, and Diana Evans.

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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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