Jacob M’hango, Pemi Aguda, and Arinze Ifeakandu.

Three African authors have been awarded the 2023 O. Henry Prize for Short Fiction. They include Zambian writer Jacob M’hango and Nigerian writers Pemi Aguda and Arinze Ifeakandu.

Named after the famous American short story writer O. Henry and founded in 1919, the award selects 20 short stories of exceptional merit every year from US and Canadian magazines. The selected works are then published in an anthology.

This year, the following African writers are among the 20 award winners:

  • Jacob M’hango – “The Mother,” Short Story Day Africa. Buy here.
  • Pemi Aguda – “The Hollow,” Zoetrope. Read here.
  • Arinze Ifeakandu – “Happy Is a Doing Word,” Kenyon Review. Read here.

The 20 winners will be published in the annual anthology, The Best Short Stories 2023: The O Henry Prize Winners, edited by Lauren Groff, in September.

Groff remarks about this year’s stories:

The Best Short Stories 2023 was assembled for you, dear reader, to give you a sense of the enormous range and capacity of the contemporary short story, to make you laugh, to bewilder and delight and scare you, to show you the thriving ecosystem of the short story as it existed in the world this strange third pandemic year, to give you a glimpse of the extraordinary diversity of voice and journal and nationality and subject matter that the short story, most vibrant of narrative forms, encompasses.

You will certainly like some of these stories more than others; some will be set at your current vibration levels; it seems likely to me that others that you may not appreciate just now will find you where you will be at some point in the future. If our adolescent mixtapes were a shy declaration of affection, please accept this year’s O. Henry anthology for what it is: a loud declaration of love.

Congrats to the winners!