Kenyan writer Peter Ngila Njeri has won the 2023 James Currey Prize for African Literature with his stunning novel manuscript Legend of Beach House.
The award is administered by the James Currey Society and its director/founder Onyeka Nwelue, and named in honor of South African publisher James Currey. The award is given to “the best unpublished work of fiction written in English by any writer, set in Africa or on Africans in Africa or in Diaspora.”
Njeri was announced as the winner at the African Literature Festival in Oxford, UK on September 3 by prize jury member Nneoma Otuegbe. With this win, Njeri received the £1,000 prize and a publishing deal with Abibiman Publishing UK.
The Legend of Beach House by Peter Ngila Njeri is a haunting story with a looping plot and a futuristic flavour, using the Beach House as a metaphor for human contradictions and soul searching. It flags deceptions and religiosity while exploring the schisms between sinners and “saints”. In re-examining the mysteries of life, it offers a deep insight into man’s nebulous, aerial borders, as the author manages an intricate time warp.
This year’s shortlist was quite diverse and included writers from 5 different African countries – Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The shortlist included Bolga by Bus by A.G. Agambila (Ghana), Akala by William Moore (Nigeria), Black Fractures in Exile by Limpho Sechele (South Africa), and A Dangerous Job for a Woman by Patricia Brickhill (Zimbabwe).
Njeri has generously offered to share the prize money with some of his fellow shortlisted writers. See his celebratory tweet below:
My novel manuscript, The Legend of Beach House, has won the 2023 James Currey Prize for African Literature! Will be published in the UK by Abibiman Publishing. In the spirit of writers winning together I’ll share some of the prize money with two of the fellow shortlisted writers.
— Peter Ngila Njeri (@peterngilanjeri) September 2, 2023
Chaired by Henry Akubuiro, the 2023 jury included: Nneoma Otuegbe, Tatiana Cassiano, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, Javier Gutierrez Lozano, Debbie Edwards ,and Masande Ntshanga. The jury selected the initial longlist of 11 works on August 10 and announced the shortlist on August 20.
Congrats to Peter Ngila Njeri on the well-deserved win!