Ugandan-born author, editor and writing coach Paul Kisakye has been announced winner of the 2020 Saraounia Prize for Young Adult Fiction for his YA novel The Rainmakers, a mystery novel set in Uganda and involving five teenagers and a long-lost uncle on a quest to solve a series of curious events.

The Sarraounia Prize for Young Adult Fiction is biennially awarded to “the best unpublished fiction for young adults written in English, French or Hausa by African authors and illustrators based in Africa.” It was founded and is currently co-administered by the Arts & Culture program at Abdou Moumouni University in Niger and the publisher Amalion in Senegal. The objective of the prize is “to contribute to the availability of reading material for African young adults and to promote literature to help better understand the world of African youths.”

The Rainmakers was selected winner from “hundreds of manuscript entries in French and in English received from across the continent” by a judging panel that included publisher Antoinette Fall Correa, now late academic, playwright and literary critic Chaibou Dan-Inna, international publishing director, literary agent Sarah Odedina and children’s bookseller Binta Tini. Kisakye received a prize of 1,000 euros at an award ceremony on 24 October 2020 held in Niamey, Niger. The published winning entry was released and disseminated both in English and in French by Amalion from 31 October 2020.

Paul Kisakye is the author of Tech Explorers League, a series of sci-fi novels for children and a non-fiction book Prodigal Love. He is an African Writers Trust Publishing Fellow and was shortlisted for the Writivism Short Story Prize in 2013.

Here is a synopsis of The Rainmakers from the prize organizers:

“Fifteen-year-old Tendo Katende was looking forward to the holidays and a break from schoolwork, but two weeks in he can’t stand the routine of playing video games all day long any more. Will the rest of the holiday be like this? Then a visit from an uncle he has never met before changes everything. Uncle Moses comes with a gift of a holographic video game like none Tendo has ever played before.

When strange happenings at the farm start causing havoc, mayhem and destruction, Tendo gets into serious trouble with his father, concerned about the game’s power. Is the new holographic game linked to the mysterious events at the farm? Does that mean Tendo needs to stop playing his super-fun, highly addictive video game if he is to save the farm? What if there are more sinister forces with vindictive agendas at work on the farm? Suddenly, the holidays are no longer boring, Tendo teams up with his friends to solve the mystery before the whole farm is destroyed.”

Brittle Paper congratulates Paul Kisakye!