[The JRB Daily] JRB Contributing Editor Bongani Madondo up for Brittle Paper Literary Award

Main image: Bongani Madondo photographed by JRB Photo Editor Victor Dlamini

To celebrate their seventh anniversary, Brittle Paper recently launched the Brittle Paper Literary Awards.

The awards ‘recognise the finest original pieces of African writing published online’ and will be divided into five categories: Fiction, Poetry, Non-fiction, Essays/Thinkpieces, and the Anniversary Award for works published on the blog.

Johannesburg Review of Books Contributing Editor Bongani Madondo has been shortlisted in the Essays/Thinkpieces category for his piece ‘Writes of Passage, an Urban Memoir: How a Pan-African Journal and American Glossies Put Bongani Madondo on the Write Path’, published in the July edition of The JRB.

In addition, three stories from Short Story Day Africa’s latest anthology Migrations, which was co-edited by The JRB Contributing Editor Efemia Chela and Bongani Kona, are on the Fiction shortlist: ‘A Door Ajar’ by Sibongile Fisher, ‘Farang’ by Megan Ross, and ‘Tea’ by TJ Benson.

The winner of the Anniversary Award will receive $300, while the winners of the other categories will receive $200 each. The winners will be announced on 23 September 2017.

According to Brittle Paper editor Ainehi Edoro, the shortlists were selected ‘based on quality, significance, and impact’. Only works that are available online for free were considered.

For the Fiction, Poetry, Non-fiction, Essays/Thinkpieces categories, pieces published between 1 January, 2016 and 31 July, 2017 were considered. Consideration for the Anniversary Award was limited from 1 August, 2016 to 31 July, 2017.

‘While we sought recommendations from folks in the community, we—my co-editor, Otosirieze Obi-Young, and I—mostly depended on our knowledge as curators of African literary production, knowledge from monitoring the African literary scene closely, and from observing how much impact these writings have had on individuals and online communities,’ Edoro writes.

‘Each of our picks reflects, in its own unique way, what is exciting about African literary culture in the digital/social media space. Some have been read and shared widely on social media. All have kindled and rekindled important conversations and debates, or have identified and built on areas still under-explored.’

Madondo’s essay is described as:

An excitingly steeped tribute, supplemented by film, music and urban references, to the culturing power of TransitionRolling Stone and Vibe magazines on the intellectual culture of specific periods. A personal history of literary and political eclecticism and diversity.

Other South Africans nominated are Sisonke Msimang, for her piece ‘All Your Faves Are Problematic: A Brief History of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Stanning, and #BlackGirlMagic’, published on Africa Is a Country; Koleka Putuma, for her poem ‘Water’; and Andile Ndlovu, for his short story ‘Love Is Not Apolitical’, published on Brittle Paper.


See the full list of nominees (for the full citations, visit Brittle Paper):



“A Door Ajar,” Sibongile Fisher, Short Story Day Africa: Migrations (South Africa) 

“A Short History of Zaka the Zulu,” Petina Gappah, The New Yorker (Zimbabwe) 

“God’s Children Are Little Broken Things,” Arinze IfeakanduA Public Space (Nigeria) 

“Ships in High Transit,” Binyavanga Wainaina, Expound (Kenya) 

“Triptych: Texas Pool Party,” Namwali Serpell, Triple Canopy (Zambia) 

“Farang,” Megan Ross, Short Story Day Africa: Migrations (South Africa) 

“Squad,” Linda Musita, Enkare Review (Kenya) 

“Tea,” TJ Benson, Short Story Day Africa: Migrations (Nigeria) 

“The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright,” Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Jalada (Kenya) 

“Beautiful,” Helon Habila, Adda (Nigeria)



“Pythagoras Theorem,” Nick Makoha, Adda (Uganda) 

“application for asylum,” Safia Elhillo, Frontier Poetry (Sudan) 

“Credo to Leave,” JK Anowe, Expound (Nigeria) 

“Your Body Is War,” Mahtem Shiferraw, Hermeneutic Chaos Journal (Ethiopia/Eritrea) 

“A Series of Solitudes,” Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Enkare Review (DR Congo) 

“How to Paint a Girl,” Gbenga Adesina, The New York Times Magazine (Nigeria) 

“Water,” Koleka Putuma, PEN South Africa (South Africa) 

“I Ask My Brother Jonathan to Write about Oakland, and He Describes His Room,” Yalie Kamara, African Poetry Prize (Sierra Leone/USA) 

“Metamorphosis,” Romeo Oriogun, Brittle Paper (Nigeria) 

“The Colour of James Brown’s Scream,” Kayo Chingonyi, African Poetry Prize (Zambia/UK) 



“Africa’s Future Has No Space for Stupid Black Men,” Pwaanguloongi Dauod, Granta (Nigeria) 

“Working the City,” Bernard Matambo, Transition (Zimbabwe) 

“How It Ends,” Troy Onyango, The Magunga (Kenya) 

“Out of Europe—Traveling with the Caine Prize in Germany,” Rotimi Babatunde, Caine Prize Blog (Nigeria) 

“Fugee,” Hawa Jande Golakai, Safe House/Granta (Liberia) 

“Naijographia,” Bethuel Muthee, Enkare Review (Kenya) 

“Uniben Boy in Berlin,” Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, Brittle Paper (Nigeria) 

“Since Everything Was Suddening into a Hurricane,” Binyavanga Wainaina, Granta (Kenya) 



“Penpoints, Gunpoints, and Dreams: A History of Creative Writing Instruction in East Africa,” Billy Kahora, Chimurenga (Kenya) 

“In the Shadow of Context,” Kola Tubosun, Enkare Review (Nigeria) 

“Poverty Porn: A New Prison for African Writers,” Richard Oduor Oduku, Richardoduor.wordpress.com (Kenya) 

“An Architect of Dreams: On Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Devil on the Cross,” Tope Folarin, Los Angeles Review of Books (Nigeria) 

“When We Talk about Kintu,” Ellah Allfrey, Brittle Paper (Zimbabwe/UK) 

“Writes of Passage, an Urban Memoir: How a Pan-African Journal and American Glossies Put Bongani Madondo on the Write Path,” Bongani Madondo, The Johannesburg Review of Books (South Africa) 

“The Labours of the Months: Of Work and Its Refuseniks,” Rotimi Babatunde, Praxis (Nigeria) 

“All Your Faves Are Problematic: A Brief History of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Stanning, and #BlackGirlMagic,” Sisonke Msimang, Africa Is a Country (South Africa)



For a work published on Brittle Paper that embodies our vision of the dynamism of literature.

“Love Is Not Apolitical,” Andile Ndlovu, fiction (South Africa) 

“Because Your Body Took the Wrong Way Home,” Wale Owoade, poetry (Nigeria) 

“Schoolyard Cannibal,” Nana Nkweti, prose-poetry (Cameroon) 

“We’re Queer, We’re Here,” Chibuihe Obi, essay (Nigeria) 

“The Weight of Silence,” Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, fiction (Nigeria) 

“Gay Wars: The Battle of the Bitches (or The Tops and Bottoms of Being Out in Nigeria),” Rapum Kambili, essay (Nigeria) 

“You Sing of a Leaving,” JK Anowe, poetry (Nigeria) 

“Not Guilty,” Abifatah Shafat, fiction (Somalia) 

“Nwangene,” Nzube Ifechukwu, creative nonfiction (Nigeria) 

“Kampala Love Spell (A Westerner’s Preparation),” A. Awosanya, poetry (Uganda/Nigeria/USA) 

“How to Buy a Soul,” Michael E. Umoh, fiction (Nigeria) 

“The Fear of Tomorrow,” Yejide Kilanko, fiction (Nigeria) 

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