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Tade Thompson’s Rosewater. Image from While Reading and Walking.

The Nigerian writer and psychiatrist Tade Thompson has won the 2019 Arthur C Clarke Award, the UK’s premier honour for science fiction, for his Nommo Award-winning novel Rosewater, the first in his Wormwood Trilogy set in 2066 Africa invaded by aliens. The announcement was made at the prize ceremony on Wednesday night at Foyles Bookshop, London, where Thompson received a trophy and £2,019, a cash prize which changes to match the announcement year. This year’s prize received the highest number of entries yet—124 novels.

“Alien invasion is always a political subject,” the chair of the judges Andrew M Butler said, “and Tade Thompson. . . expertly explores the nature of the alien, global power structures and pervasive technologies with a winning combination of science fictional invention, gritty plotting and sly wit.”

Thompson’s Wormwood Trilogy is completed by The Rosewater Insurrection (2019) and the forthcoming The Rosewater Redemption (2019). His other books include the novel Making Wolf (2015) and the novellas The Murder of Molly Southbourne (2017) and The Survival of Molly Southbourne (2019), which has been optioned for screen adaptation. He is a recipient of a Kitschies Golden Tentacle Award winner, and a finalist for a John W. Campbell Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the British Science Fiction Award. Last year, he pushed a conversation with his essay, “Please Stop Talking About the ‘Rise’ of African Science Fiction.”

Tade Thompson. Image from The Guardian.

Published in 2016 by Orbit Books, here is a description of Rosewater from Amazon:

Between meeting a boy who bursts into flames, alien floaters that want to devour him, and a butterfly woman who he has sex with when he enters the xenosphere, Kaaro’s life is far from the simple one he wants. But he left simple behind a long time ago when he was caught stealing and nearly killed by an angry mob. Now he works for a government agency called Section 45, and they want him to find a woman known as Bicycle Girl.

An alien entity lives beneath the ground, forming a biodome around which the city of Rosewater thrives. The citizens of Rosewater are enamored by the dome, hoping for a chance to meet the beings within or possibly be invited to come in themselves. But Kaaro isn’t so enamored. He was in the biodome at one point and decided to leave it behind. When something begins killing off other sensitives like himself, Kaaro defies Section 45 to search for an answer, facing his past, and comes to a realization about a horrifying future.

Rosewater was chosen from a shortlist that included the Iraqi novelist Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad, the British author Aliya Whiteley’s The Loosening Skin, the American author Sue Burke’s Semiosis, the Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag’s illustrated novel The Electric State, and the American author Yoon Ha Lee’s Revenant Gun.

Previous winners of the Arthur C Clarke Award, now in its 33rd year, include Margaret Atwood, Geoff Ryman, Amitav Ghosh, Lauren Beukes, and Colson Whitehead.

Brittle Paper congratulates Tade Thompson.

Buy Rosewater 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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