Nigerian speculative fiction writer Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is the winner of the 2020 Otherwise Award. He wins the award for the novella titled “Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon,” which was originally published in Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, edited by Zelda Knight and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki. The award comes with a 1000 USD cash prize, an original artwork commissioned specially for him, and chocolate.
The Otherwise Award, which was formerly called The Tiptree Award, has been around since 1991 and is awarded to science fiction writing that presents an expanded idea of gender. The judging panel, which was made up of Chesya Burke, M.L. Clarke, Liz Henry (chair), Annalee Newitz, and Tochi Onyebuchi, was unanimous in their selection of Ekpeki’s novella.
Ekpeki is the second African writer and the first writer based in Africa to win the prize. Akwaeke Emezi won the prize in 2019 for their debut novel Freshwater.
In a statement published on the award’s website, the panel describes the winning novella as “a work of daring moral imagination as well as a story expertly constructed.” Praising the high level of craftsmanship displayed in the novella, the judges add:
In addition to presenting a dramatic and three-dimensional discourse on gender, community, and sacrifice, the story also gives us an inversion of a creation myth wherein the gendered nature of such tales is treated in a grounded and nuanced manner. Not once did it feel like the story’s many themes and aspects existed in isolation. That the story, as much as it holds within it, reads as a seamless piece is a testament to the craft on display.
Ekpeki shared his excitement at winning the award in a statement on twitter, highlighting the historic nature of his win.
I’ll be the 1st writer on the continent to win this 🥰
& the 2nd time in a row a Nigerian is winning, both of us the only Africans to have. Congrats to the honours listed writers, esp @RB_Lemberg & Isabel Fall, powerful writers. Thanks to the Motherboard for the amazing honour 💙 https://t.co/nmwzGFIcEO
— Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (@Penprince_) September 7, 2021
Congrats to Ekpeki!
BUY Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora: Amazon