Angolan writer and poet João Tala is the winner of the 2023 National Prize for Culture and Arts of Angola in the literature category.

The National Prize for Culture and Arts of Angola recognizes the actions of young people in the fields of social and economic life in the country, in particular in Lunda Sul, in the categories of Literature, Plastic Arts, Theatre, Dance, Music, Event Promotion, DJs, and Scientific Research. This is a local government initiative aimed at encouraging the creative ingenuity of young people as well as promoting their participation in the search for solutions to the problems that plague the province.

João Tala is a doctor, poet, and fiction writer in Angola. His debut poetry collection The shape of desires (1997) won the First Book Award from the Writers’ Union in 1997 and first place at the Caxinde Floral Games in 1999. In this book, Tala reveals an auspicious contribution to the renewal and diversity of Angolan poetic discourse, which characterized the generation of the New Angolan Poetry.

Tala is a member of the “Generation of 90”, having published in the 1990s. According to a statement by Kalunga Angola, he stands out in the Angolan literary panorama for his vision anchored in Bantu cosmology, for the way he deals with traditional cultures, especially Kimbundu, Ovimbundu, and Tchokwé, for the evocations of the various wars that ravaged the country and, finally, the way he addresses women and women’s issues. He is also known for his brief and experimental style.

Although he is admired in literary circles in Angola and other Portuguese-speaking African countries as well as in certain Brazilian academic circles interested in Africa, Tala is little published and known internationally. This might be due to the fact that he has written in a peripheral language, from a geopolitical point of view.

The winners of the prize were announced on Tuesday, November 7, in Luanda, by the president of the jury, Maria José Faria Ramos. The other winners of this year’s edition of the National Prize for Culture and Arts of Angola were: Ana Suzana David (plastic and visual arts), Mestre Kituxi (music), Carlos Conceição (cinema and audiovisual), the Palasa Dance Company (dance), the Amostra Nacional de Teatro project (theatre), the authors of the collective work “Several languages, one nation” (social sciences and humanities).

Congrats to João Tala on the well-deserved win!