Top: Sylvia Tamale, Bernardine Evaristo, and Carole Boyce Davies. Bottom: Natalie Baszile and Panashe Chigumadzi.

Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo is chair of judges for the inaugural Global Black Women’s Nonfiction Manuscript Prize organized by Cassava Republic.

Founded in Abuja, Nigeria in 2006, Cassava Republic is a noted publisher of books from Africa and the diaspora. They recently launched the Global Black Women’s Non-Fiction Manuscript Prize, open to emerging and established Black women (cis, trans and genderqueer) writers globally. The goal is to expand the perception of Black women writers beyond their role as writes of fiction, poets and memoirists, to recognize their role as producers of critical ideas.

In keeping with the prize’s ethos of championing Black women writers and thinkers, the panel of judges is composed of five accomplished Black women writers and scholars from across the globe. Through their experience and insight, they are best placed to achieve the prize’s goals of identifying and publishing Black women writers who bridge the gap between “creativity” and “theory” with brilliant work that is rigorous and beautiful, engaging and thoughtful.

Chairing the panel is the celebrated, award-winning author, academic and Booker Prize recipient, Bernardine Evaristo. Joining Evaristo are: Sylvia Tamale, a prominent Ugandan feminist, legal scholar, and human rights activist; Natalie Baszile, distinguished African-American author and film-maker; Carole Boyce Davies, renowned Caribbean-American feminist, professor and literary scholar; and acclaimed Zimbabwean-South African essayist, novelist, and scholar, Panashe Chigumadzi.

The judges’ combined experience and expertise in literature and knowledge-making underscore their commitment to recognizing the diverse voices and contributions of Black women writers, marking a crucial step in addressing the historical underrepresentation – particularly in the nonfiction sphere.

Evaristo is the author of 10 books and writes across a range of literary genres including a memoir, Manifesto: On Never Giving Up (2021). She won the Booker Prize 2019 for her eighth book, Girl, Woman, Other, the first black woman and black British person to win it. She is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London, President of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, and President of the Royal Society of Literature.

Evaristo remarked that she is thrilled to chair the judging panel for this inaugural prize:

This is a groundbreaking prize which will support, champion and elevate the writings of Black women who are interested in expanding the universe of ideas, the imagination and critical thinking, and I am overjoyed to be chairing such an illustrious panel of leading intellectuals.

The judging panel will select manuscripts based on the specified criteria, including originality and depth, vision and accessibility, impact and relevance. The prize carries a total value of $30,000, with the winner receiving a publishing contract with Cassava Republic and a $20,000 advance, and two runners-up each receiving a $5000 advance and a publishing deal.

The Global Black Women’s Non-Fiction Manuscript Prize is open for submissions until March 31, 2024. Go here for more info.