Tuesday 25 February 2014

Bulawayo's 'We Need New Names' wins inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature

NoViolet Bulawayo’s winning spree with her debut novel ‘We Need New Names’ has continued, following the announcement last Sunday 23rd February that she was selected as the winner of the inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature. The Prize is the only pan-African prize celebrating first time writers of published fiction books.

From an original longlist of nine novels, the judges whittled the entries down to a shortlist of three, which included NoViolet Bulawayo, Karen Jennings and Yewande Omotoso, who took part in the 2012 Caine Prize workshop in South Africa. 

NoViolet Bulawayo, alongside Karen Jennings and Yewande Omotoso, receiving the Etisalat Prize for Literature of £15,000. Credit: Etisalat Nigeria

'We Need New Names' was victorious, chosen by a panel of three literary experts, Pumla Gquola, Sarah Ladipo and Billy Kahora, who was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2012. 

NoViolet in Lagos with her Etisalat award.
Credit: Etisalat Nigeria

In addition to winning £15,000, a Samsung Galaxy Note and a Montblanc Meisterstuck, NoViolet will take part in a sponsored book tour to three African cities and a Etisalat Fellowship at the University of East Anglia, mentored by Professor Giles Foden.

NoViolet's unique writing style reached international audiences when she won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2011 with the short story 'Hitting Budapest.' 'We Need New Names' was subsequently shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, making her the first black African woman and the first Zimbabwean to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. 

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Creative minds assemble by Lake Victoria: reflections on the 2013 Caine Prize workshop, by Lizzy Attree

This is a belated post on the Uganda workshop in 2013.  As the next workshop approaches in Zimbabwe it seems fitting to reflect on the last workshop and include some pictures of the memorable experiences we had in Entebbe and Kampala.

Left to right: Pam Nichols, Rotimi Babatunde, Michael Phoya, Davina Kawuma, Abubakar Ibrahim,
Melissa Myambo, Veronique Tadjo, Elnathan John, Harriet Anena, Billy Kahora.

On the shores of Lake Victoria we assembled 12 talented writers at the Garuga Beach Resort Hotel where we were surrounded by spiders fat on swarms of lake flies, whose webs cocooned all the surrounding foliage.

We are immensely grateful to Beatrice Lamwaka and Hilda Twongyeirwe from FEMRITE for helping us to find Garuga.

And thanks to Goretti Kyomuhendo, Director of the African Writers Trust, for all her useful advice when preparing for the first Caine Prize workshop in Uganda.

We were joined by the 2012 Caine Prize winner, Rotimi Babatunde, as well as three of the writers who were shortlisted in 2012 (Melissa Myambo, Billy Kahora and Stanley Kenani) and four were Ugandan writers (Lilian Aujo, Hellen Nyana, Harriet Anena and Davina Kawuma); the other four hailed from Nigeria (Elnathan John and Abubakar Ibrahim), Malawi (Michael Phoya), and Botswana (Wazha Lopang).

Lake Victoria
During 10 days of peace and quiet the workshop participants write, read their work to each other, discuss and critique each story.  They were guided by Veronique Tadjo (Ivory Coast) and Pam Nichols (South Africa), who are both based at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

Lilian Aujo, Pam Nichols, Harriet Anena

Pam Nichols, Rotimi Babatunde, Billy Kahora, Veronique Tadjo

The only breaks included a visit to St Mary's High School in Kisubi where writers spoke to 150 students about the workshop and read from their work in progress.

Stanley Kenani reads to St Mary's High School
Hellen Nyana, Stanley Kenani

St Mary's High School

Later that evening we launched the African Violet anthology at the Barn Steakhouse in Kampala with our co-publishers FEMRITE and the help of the British High Commissioner Alison Blackburne and the British Council country director Peter Brown.

Alison Blackburne, British High Commissioner

Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, Poet
Lizzy Attree, Caine Prize Director

The Barn Steakhouse, Kampala

The writers (Left to Right):
 Michael Phoya, Lillian Aujo, Rotimi Babatunde, Abubakar Ibrahim, Hellen Nyana,
Elnathan John, Melissa Myambo, Stanley Kenani and Harriet Anena.
Although much fun was had by all, the product of this intensive 10 day workshop is a high quality collection of short stories anthologised as A Memory This Size and other stories, which is co-published in 7 African countries.

The workshop in Zimbabwe will produce another 13 short stories, which collected with the 5 stories shortlisted this year (to be announced in May), will form the next 2014 Caine Prize anthology, published by New Internationalist in the UK.