What a wonderful year it has been! As 2021 comes to a close, we at Brittle Paper want to say thank you for your support through yet another busy and memorable year. It was a special year of great visibility for African literature, with publishers really expanding their African collection and African writers winning major international awards. We are grateful for the privilege of sharing this world of literary excellence with you.
Our Notable African Books of 2021 spotlighted some of the amazing work published by African writers. The list had a record visibility this year due to the collaboration with The Africa Center and South African newspaper The Mail and Guardian. We hope that readers will use the list of books to enrich their reading experience in the coming year. For readers who are curious about what 2022 will bring in terms of African books, keep an eye out for our anticipated books of the year list.
2021 has been a great year of massive global presence for African literature thanks to writers winning major international awards. One of the highlights was Abdulrazak Gurnah winning the Nobel Prize. To meet the magnitude of the moment, we created a space for 103 African writers to celebrate his win. It took a lot of work to pull that off, it was the least we could do to memorialize such momentous event. Gurnah’s win was, however, not the only major international win. Tsitsi Dangaremgba was awarded the Pen Pinter Prize and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. Damon Galgut won the Booker Prize. Paulina Chiziane won the Camoes Award for Portuguese Literature. David Diop won the International Booker Prize. Boubacar Boris Diop won the Neustadt International Prize. Congrats to all these writers!
We welcomed 6 new people into the Brittle Paper Persons of the Year initiative, which celebrates individuals doing outstanding work towards advancing the culture and creating durable institutions for writers and readers. Congratulations to Abdulrazak Gurnah (African Literary Person of the Year), Dr. Stella Nyanzi (Writer-Activist of the Year), Dr. Uche Umezurike (Academic of the Year), The Cheeky Natives (Social Media Influencer of the Year), and the teams behind Somi Nami Books (Literary Platform of the Year) and Masobe Books (Publishing House of the Year).
One collaboration we are very proud of is the Read Africa program launched by the African Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In March, the program asked libraries across the state “to submit proposals to purchase books and materials that will enable Wisconsin readers to deepen their understanding of Africa.” We curated a book list to guide the participating libraries with their acquisitions of African books.The list of over 150 books spans decades, genres and themes. 34 libraries received the award and have gone on to enrich their readers’ experience with African books.
We also welcomed new members to the Brittle Paper team. Emerald Rutledge came in as the Social Media Manager, Alesia Alexander as the Assistant Editor, and Tahzeeb Akram as the Submissions editor. Their contributions have boosted productivity. Tahzeeb designed and led the #30daysofafricanwriting campaign, which featured poetry, fiction, and essay and explored themes ranging from feminism, to grief, politics, love, and queer experiences. Alexander’s weekly book features and book news segment have kept readers undated on new and forthcoming releases. Rutledge handles the curation of all our social media channels, especially Instagram where we delight booklovers great content. Kudos to Stephanie Selvick for volunteering her time during the summer to provide editorial assistance.
We move into 2022 fired up to continue bringing you the wonderful world of African writing and literary culture.
We will be taking a break from December 24, 2020 to January 2, 2021. We’ll be back on the 3rd with a bang. So stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the wonderful stories from our #12daysofbrittlepaperstories series.
Happy holidays and a Happy New Year to all our readers – see you in 2022!
Dr. Ainehi Edoro
Founder and Editor