Nigerian writer Jumoke Verrisimo has been awarded the 2020 Aidoo-Snyder Prize for Best Creative Work for her debut novel A Small Silence, which tenderly explores the nexus between activism and mental health.

Runner-ups for the prize include Peace Adzo Medie for His Only Wife and Gabeba Baderoon for The History of Intimacy.

The Aidoo-Snyder book prize, named in honor of celebrated Ghanaian author Ama Ata Aidoo and Margaret Snyder who is the founding director of UNIFEM, is awarded by the Women’s Caucus of the African Studies Association for “an outstanding book that prioritizes African women’s experiences.” Winners receive a cash prize of $500.

In a message sent by co-conveners Maha Marouan and Anita Plummer, the Women’s Caucus of the ASA remarks:

We are happy to announce that the 2020 Book Prize committee has selected Jumoke Verissimo’s A Small Silence (Cassava Republic, 2019) as the winner of the Aidoo-Snyder Prize for best original creative work. A Small Silence is impressive for several reasons: its moving portrait of post-traumatic stress disorder, its believable point of view, its connections to real-world problems, its engaging depictions of everyday life, its lyrical style, and its sense of humor.

A Small Silence, published by Cassava Republic Press, centers around two characters coming to terms with deep-seated traumas and how their worlds are bound to change forever when they finally connect. The novel was included in our recommended reads for books that explore mental health as well as our Top 15 debut books of 2019.

Verissimo, who started out writing poetry and went on to publish two collections, had previously earned an ANA award shortlist and an NLNG longlist. She is at present a doctoral student in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada.

Find out more about the prize here.

Brittle Paper congratulates Jumoke Verrisimo!