The shortlists for the 2018 Brittle Paper Awards have been announced.
The awards were established in 2017 to recognise the ‘finest original pieces of writing by Africans published online’. Prize money of $1,100 is split across five categories: the Brittle Paper Award for Fiction ($200), the Brittle Paper Award for Poetry ($200), the Brittle Paper Award for Creative Nonfiction ($200), the Brittle Paper Award for Essays & Think Pieces ($200), and the Brittle Paper Anniversary Award ($300) for writing published on Brittle Paper’s blog.
Five pieces published on The JRB have been nominated. In the Essays and Think Pieces category, Panashe Chigumadzi has been shortlisted for ‘History Through the Body or Rights of Desire, Rights of Conquest’, Bongani Madondo for ‘A Stranger in “the Village”‘, and Percy Zvomuya for ‘James Baldwin in Rhodesia’.
In the Fiction category, Kiprop Kimutai has been nominated for ‘The Man at the Bridge’, originally published in the Gerald Kraak Award anthology As You Like It and republished in The JRB, and Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor has been nominated for his Short Story Day Africa-winning story ‘All Our Lives’, originally published in ID: New Short Fiction from Africa, and republished in The JRB.
‘We started this project last year to celebrate African writing published online,’ Brittle Paper founder and editor Ainehi Edoro says. ‘It is true that the global literary scene is swarming with literary prizes and awards, but what sets this one apart is the push to give a certain kind of literary value to writing exclusively published and circulated online.
‘The barriers of entry into traditional publishing are enormous for African writers, especially those based on the continent. As a result, a growing community of African writers are resorting to the internet and social media to share their work with audiences that really care about what they produce. The Brittle Paper Awards are simply an attempt to make the literary community more attuned to the fact that things are happening in the provisional and evanescent space of the internet, things that go unnoticed in a literary culture that still militantly privileges conventional forms of literary production.
‘The inaugural edition of the awards sparked interesting conversations in the African literary community. We are hoping that with the second edition we can get the broader literary community interested.’
Last year, The JRB Contributing Editor Bongani Madondo was shortlisted in the Essays and Think Pieces category for his essay ‘Writes of Passage, an Urban Memoir’. The 2017 winners were South African writer Sisonke Msimang (Essays and Think Pieces), Liberian novelist Hawa Jande Golakai (Creative Nonfiction), Nigerian poet JK Anowe (Poetry), South African writer Megan Ross (Fiction), and Nigerian poet Chibuihe Obi (Anniversary Award).
From Brittle Paper:
The thirty-one shortlisted pieces reflect the state of contemporary African literary culture. The wide range of themes and subject matter explore questions of history, race, power, privilege, music, photography, and more. The list also shows contemporary African writers exploring new forms of writing and adapting literary discourse to the challenges of digital culture and technology. In the collection, experimental poetry stands side by side with interviews and collections of tweets as powerful modes of expressing and circulating ideas about what Africans on the continent and abroad are writing, reading, and discussing.
To be eligible for the awards, a piece of writing had to have been published between 31 July 2017 and 31 August 2018 online and available for free. Selection was based on aesthetics, formal innovation, significance, and impact. Preference was given to works that inspired readers to rethink conventional assumptions about African writing while kindling important conversations and debates.
The compilation of the shortlists was made by Brittle Paper’s core editorial team made up of Dr Ainehi Edoro, Assistant Professor of English at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Otosirieze Obi-Young, writer and literary journalist based in Nigeria.
As a celebration of all that is good and new in the internet and social media world of African literature, the Brittle Paper Awards draws attention to literary innovation in the 21st century.
Brittle Paper is a literary platform dedicated to African writing and literary culture. The website covers latest news and updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle.
The winners will be announced on Monday, November 19, 2018.
2018 Brittle Paper Awards shortlists
The Brittle Paper Award for Creative Nonfiction ($200)
- ‘On Meeting Toni Morrison’, by Sarah Ladipo Manyika (Nigeria), in Transition
- ‘The Miseducation of Gratitude’, by Sibongile Fisher (South Africa), in Selves: An Afro Anthology of Creative Nonfiction
- ‘How to Gossip About African Writing in Geneva’, by Oris Aigbokhaevbolo (Nigeria), in Catapult
- ‘Chapter Thirty-Three’, by Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenya), in Brittle Paper
- ‘A House for Mr Soyinka’, by Kola Tubosun (Nigeria), in Popula
- ‘Home Means Nothing to Me’, by Tinashe Mushakavanhu in collaboration with Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Simba Mafundikwa (Zimbabwe), in Chimurenga
The Brittle Paper Award for Essays and Think Pieces ($200)
- ‘History Through the Body or Rights of Desire, Rights of Conquest’, by Panashe Chigumadzi (Zimbabwe), in The Johannesburg Review of Books
- ‘Verse Africa: The Malleable Poetics of Some Contemporary African Poets’, by Matthew Shenoda (Egypt), in World Literature Today
- ‘A Stranger in “the Village”,’ by Bongani Madondo (South Africa), in The Johannesburg Review of Books
- ‘Preserving and Writing History’, Ayesha Harruna Attah (Ghana) in Conversation with Gaamangwe Joy Mogami (Botswana), in Africa in Dialogue
- ‘The Colonizer’s Archive Is a Crooked Finger’, by Emmanuel Iduma (Nigeria), in Catapult
- ‘James Baldwin in Rhodesia’, by Percy Zvomuya (Zimbabwe), in The Johannesburg Review of Books
The Brittle Paper Award for Poetry ($200)
- ‘A List of Things I Do Not Tell My Mother’, by Sarah Lubala (South Africa and Congo), in Apogee Journal
- ‘A Field, any Field’, by Itiola Jones (Nigeria), in The Offing
- ‘Origin Myths’, by Megan Ross (South Africa), in The Single Story Foundation Journal
- ‘On the Isle of Lesbos’, by Tsitsi Jaji (Zimbabwe), in Harvard Review
- ‘I Like to Think I’d Yet Manage to Weave Words into Poems’, by Chisom Okafor (Nigeria), in Expound
- ‘Summer Night Spent Cosplaying Ashanti and Ja Rule Or Something Else Resembling Happiness’, by Momtaza Mehri (Somalia and UK), in Frontier Poetry
The Brittle Paper Award for Fiction ($200)
- ‘Moon Secrets’, by Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana), in The Single Story Foundation Journal
- ‘The Man at the Bridge’, by Kiprop Kimutai (Kenya), in As You Like It, republished in The Johannesburg Review of Books
- ‘Involution’, by Stacy Hardy (South Africa), in Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa
- ‘Our Husband Grief’, by Christine Odeph (Kenya), in Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa (as ‘My Sister’s Husband’), republished in Brittle Paper
- ‘All Our Lives’, by Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor (Nigeria), in ID: New Short Fiction from Africa, republished in The Johannesburg Review of Books
The Brittle Paper Anniversary Award ($300)
- ‘An African in London and Other Reflections on African Literatures’, by Richard Oduor Oduku (Kenya), Memoir
- ‘Why I No Longer Use the Term “Game” for Bushmeat’, by Chika Unigwe (Nigeria), Think Piece, first posted on Facebook
- ‘Bantu’s Swahili, or How to Steal a Language from Africa’, by Kamau Muiga (Kenya), Essay
- ‘The Nervous Conditions of the Mother Tongue’, by Mapule Mohulatsi (South Africa), Essay, first published in Selves: An Afro Anthology of Creative Nonfiction
- ‘On Postcolonial Theory’, by Shailja Patel (Kenya), Tweets
- ‘Facebook Writers and Other Trivia’, by Alaaka Tobi (Nigeria), Essay
- ‘Jambula Tree’, by Lillian Aujo (Uganda), Poetry
- ‘For What Are Butterflies without Their Wings’, by Troy Onyango (Kenya), Fiction