Acclaimed Congolese author Fiston Mwanza Mujila wins the 2021 Les Afriques Prize for his second novel La Danse du Vilain (The Villain’s Dance), described as “inventive” and “magical.”

The Les Afriques Prize, founded in 2015, annually “recognizes an African or Afro-descendant writer” who has authored a work of fiction “that highlights a human, societal, ideological, political, cultural, economic or historical cause in connection with black Africa or its diaspora.” Mujila’s novel was shortlisted alongside Fille, Femme, Autre by Bernardine Evaristo, Les Jango by Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin, Les Lumieres d’Oujda by Marc Alexandre Oho Bambe, and Mére a Mére by Sindiwe Magona, two of which were originally published in English. Winners are decided by a reading committee, followed by a jury of seven.

The Villains Dance is Mujila’s second publication, following the critically acclaimed Tram 83. The novel captures aspects of life during Mobutu’s regime and the migration of communities from the Democratic Republic of Congo (called Zaire at the time) to Angola. It was released in September 2020 by France-based publishing powerhouse Éditions Métailié, with North-American rights secured by American indie press Deep Vellum. Translation rights were equally sold for German, Swedish, Danish, and Arabic editions.

For his recent win, Fiston received a 6,000 Swiss francs cash award and a work of art worth 3,500 Swiss francs by the Senegalese painter Momar Seck. Also, he will have 100 copies of his books purchased from his publishers.

Previous winners include Cameroon’s Hemley Boum (2016), Sudan’s Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin (2017), Jamaica’s Kei Miller (2018), Nigeria’s Elnathan John (2019), and Ayobami Adebayo (2020).

Congratulations to Fiston Mwanza Mujila!