'Pemi Aguda and Ope Adedeji
L-R: ‘Pemi Aguda and Ope Adedeji.

The Nigerian writers Ope Adedeji and ‘Pemi Aguda have been shortlisted for the 2020 US National Magazine Awards, for their respective short stories “After the Birds,” published in McSweeneys Quarterly, and “24, Alhaji Williams Street,” published in Zoetrope. Presented by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME), the National Magazine Awards recognize outstanding pieces in print and digital media.

We at Brittle Paper are uber-excited for the nominations: Adedeji’s “After the Birds” and Aguda’s “24, Alhaji Williams Street” were both shortlisted for The 2019 Brittle Paper Award for Fiction, announced on video by the AKO Caine Prize chair Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, with Adedeji’s going on to win. Their shortlisting for The Brittle Paper Awards was the first major recognition for both short stories since they were published.

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Here is what we wrote about the stories in our announcement of the shortlists:

24, Alhaji Williams Street,” by ‘Pemi Aguda (Nigeria), in Zoetrope: All-Story

A mysterious, murderous fever, like the Biblical angel on Passover night, comes for a neighbourhood, house after house, flat after flat, heading for our Brymo-loving narrator in this story of relations between families told with often-delectable rhythm and a controlled awareness.

After the Birds,” by Ope Adedeji (Nigeria), in McSweeneys Quarterly

Speculation and horror are woven into this thrilling alternative-reality story in which everything—from tree leaves to memories to skin to sex to flowers to the titular birds—portends doom, leading up to a haunting ending.

‘Pemi Aguda by Victor Ehikhamenor.

’Pemi Aguda is from Lagos, Nigeria. She has an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan, where she is currently a Fellow. Her writing has won a Henfield Prize, Hopwood Awards (for Novel, Short Fiction, Non-Fiction and Drama), and the 2015 Writivism Prize. She attended Chimamanda Adichie’s Farafina Trust Workshop in 2011 and received a work-study scholarship from Bread Loaf Writers Conference in 2018 and an Octavia Butler Memorial Scholarship from the Carl Brandon Society to attend the Clarion Workshop in 2019, as well as a 2019 Juniper Summer Workshop scholarship. Her stories have appeared in Granta, Zoetrope: All-Story, American Short Fiction, and Lagos Noir. Website: pemiaguda.com.

Ope Adedeji.

Ope Adedeji dreams about bridging the gender equality gap and destroying the patriarchy. She is a writer and editor, currently doing the Lord’s work at Zikoko magazine. Her work has appeared on Arts and AfricaAfreada, Catapult, and McSweeney’s Quarterly. An Artist Managers and Literary Activists fellow, she was shortlisted for the 2018 Koffi Addo Prize for Creative Nonfiction. She is an alumnus of the 2018 Purple Hibiscus Trust Creative Writing Workshop taught by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and a Short Story Day Africa Editing Fellow. If you do not find her reading, you’ll find her writing.

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Founded in 2017 to recognize the best literary writing published by Africans and available for free online, The Brittle Paper Awards has shortlisted 103 pieces in its five categories of fiction, essays & think pieces, poetry, creative nonfiction, and The Anniversary Award for writing published on our site. It has quickly become an archive of the best writing from the continent in the last three years.

The BP Awards winners have included: Sisonke Msimang, Panashe Chigumadzi, and Namwali Serpell for essays & think pieces; Megan Ross and Stacy Hardy for fiction; JK Anowe and Itiola Jones for poetry; Hawa Jande Golakai, Sibongile Fisher, and Simone Haysom for creative nonfiction; and Chibuihe Obi, Shailja Patel, and Cheswayo Mphanza and Nkateko Masinga for the anniversary category.

In 2020, the Awards’ fourth year, we look forward to ushering in new outstanding voices and maintaining the highest standards.

Brittle Paper congratulates Ope Adedeji and ‘Pemi Aguda!