Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Nigerian writer Helon Habila has been shortlisted for the 2020 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Travellers, which follows the journey of characters from several African countries making their way across Europe.

Also on the shortlist for the fiction category are Irish novelist Edna O’brien for Girl, a Chibok girls-inspired novel, Booker-shortlisted author Lucy Ellmann for Ducks, Newburryport and Sarah Hall for Sudden Traveller.

The four books on the shortlist, according to the prize administrators, “include a story told from the perspective of a middle-aged Ohio woman, a novel about a group of migrants traveling from Africa to Europe, a collection of short stories exploring the journey of seven characters’ lives in different parts of the world, and the imagined story of a Nigerian school girl kidnapped by Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group.”

First awarded in 1919, the James Tait Black Prize is presented in two categories: fiction and biography. The award, which is one of the UK’s oldest literary prizes, is annually presented by the University of Edinburgh in memory of James Tait Black at his wife’s bequest.

Entries for the prize are screened by postgraduate students at the university under the supervision of two academic judges, providing recommendations from which the eventual shortlist is selected from. Winners in each category receive a cash prize of  £10,000.

Dr Benjamin Bateman, fiction judge, said: “At our trying hour of staying home, these four dazzling works of fiction supply nourishing forms of travel – around the world, across perilous borders, and into the thoughts of compelling characters whose personal and political emergencies demand our attention.”

Previous winners of African descent include the South African novelists Nadine Gordimer for A Guest of Honor (1971) and JM Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians (1980). Nigeria’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was shortlisted in 2007 for Half of a Yellow Sun.

The winners of both prizes will be announced in August at a virtual Edinburgh International Book Festival. The online event celebrating the eight titles will be part of the festival’s virtual program.

Brittle Paper congratulates Helon Habila.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report omitted Nadine Gordimer and JM Coetzee as previous winners and wrongly stated that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won the 2007 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Half of a Yellow Sun. It has now been corrected to include Gordimer and Coetzee and to clarify that Adichie was a finalist for the prize (which ultimately went to American author Cormac McCarthy for The Road).

Tags: , , , ,

3 Responses to “Helon Habila’s Travelers Shortlisted for the 2020 James Tait Black Memorial Prize” Subscribe

  1. Ngalabak June 25, 2020 at 3:52 pm #

    Correction: Chimamanda Adichie never won the James Tait Black Prize in 2007. The Winner in 2007 was Rosalind Belben for her book, Our Horse in Egypt. The only African writers to have won the prize were JM Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) and Nadine Gordimer, A Guest of Honor (1971).

  2. Chukwuebuka June 25, 2020 at 6:28 pm #

    Ngalabak, The Guardian UK reports the 2007 winner as Cormac McCarthy. Here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/books/2007/aug/28/news.jamestaitblackprize

    But thanks for bringing my attention to the error.

    • Bula Zargina June 26, 2020 at 9:19 am #

      Actually Ngalabak is right, and you are wrong. Here’s a link to the prize website: https://www.ed.ac.uk/events/james-tait-black/winners/fiction

      You will see the winner in 2007, was Rosalind Belben for her book, Our Horse in Egypt, published by Chatto & Windus.

      Cormac McCarthy won in 2006 with The Road.

      Chukwuebuka, you are a journalist, do your due diligence!

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

The 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize is Now Open for Entry

Apply for the 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize

The Aspen Words Literary Prize is open for entry as of today. The $35,000 prize annually rewards an “influential work […]

July 10 | Sarah Ladipo Manyika Hosts Strive Masiyiwa on Conversations Across the Diaspora

July 10 _ Sarah Ladipo Manyika Hosts Strive Masiyiwas on Conversations Across the Diaspora

Sarah Ladipo Manyika, author of In Dependence (2008) and Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun (2016), has teamed up […]

Bernardine Evaristo Becomes First Black Writer to Win Author of the Year

Bernardine Evaristo Becomes First Black Writer to Win Author of the Year in the British Book Awards

  Bernardine Evaristo’s winning streak continues as she dominates two categories of the 2020 British Book Awards: Best Fiction Book […]

Apply for the 2020 Morland Writing Scholarship | £27,000 for Nonfiction, £18,000 Fiction

Apply for the 2020 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship

The Miles Morland Foundation is currently accepting applications for the 2020 Morland African Writing Scholarships. The awards offer a fiction […]

The Million Naira Nigeria Prize for Difference and Diversity | Here is How to Nominate Someone

The Million Naira Nigeria Prize for Difference and Diversity _ Here is How to Nominate Someone

Nominations for The Nigeria Prize for Difference & Diversity is officially open. The new prize, co-presented by digital media platform […]

This is Why I am Endowing a N1 Million Prize for Difference and Diversity in Nigeria | Chude Jideonwo

This is Why I am Endowing a N1 Million Prize for Difference and Diversity in Nigeria _ Chude Jideonwo (2)

Last year, I wrote a piece on CNN during Pride Month​—​a month set aside to celebrate sexual and gender diversity […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.