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Two weeks after the prize’s Board resigned and the prize reiterated its commitment to announcing a winner 18 months after it released a shortlist, the Nigerian Ayobami Adebayo has been named the winner of the 2017/18 9Mobile Prize for Literature, for her much-honoured debut novel Stay with Me. The shortlist also included the Nigerian Lesley Nneka Arimah, for her short story collection What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, and the South African Marcus Low, for his novel Asylum.

The news, revealed at a private ceremony in Lagos, was shared on Twitter by Adebayo’s Nigerian publisher Ouida Books director Lola Shoneyin.

Stay with Me, published by Canongate in the US and UK, was a finalist for the 2017 Women’s Prize for Fiction, the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, and the 2018 Dylan Thomas Prize.

The finalists were chosen from a nine-name longlist which included: Like it Matters, by David Cornwell; Radio Sunrise, by Anietie Isong; Taduno’s Song, by Odafe Atogun; The Printmaker, by Bronwyn Law-Viljoen; Being Kari, by Qarnita Loxton; and A Casualty of Power, by Mukuka Chipanta.

The judges are Doreen Baingana, Siphiwo Mahala, and the chair Harry Garuba.

Founded in 2013 as the Etisalat Prize for Literature, the £15,000 award is the first pan-African literary prize created to honour only debut books of fiction—novels or short story collections. Traditionally, the winner also receives an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück pen and a sponsored fellowship at the University of East Anglia, where they will be mentored by Professor Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland. And in addition to 9Mobile purchasing 1,000 copies of each of the shortlisted books for distribution to schools, libraries and book clubs across the continent, all the finalists will further participate in a multi-city book tour.

However, given the prize’s troubles, only a formal press release from 9mobile will, as James Murua’s Literature Blog suggests, clarify possible benefits for the winner and finalists.

The 9Mobile Prize for Literature has been won in the past by Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo in 2014, for We Need New Names; South Africa’s Songheziwe Mahlangu in 2015, for Penumbra; the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Fiston Mwanza Mujila in 2016, for Tram 83; and Nigeria’s Jowhor Ile in 2017, for And After Many Days.

Brittle Paper congratulates Ayobami Adebayo.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young, writer and journalist, 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 has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies and English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. 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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