The longlist for the Short Story Day Africa Prize for Short Fiction has been announced.
The prize was founded in 2013, and is open to any African citizen or African person living in the diaspora.
SSDA awards prize money of US$800 (about R11,000) for first place, $200 for second place, and $100 for third place. The previous winners of the prize are Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor, Sibongile Fisher, Cat Hellisen, Diane Awerbuck and Okwiri Oduor.
This year’s prize theme is ‘Hotel Africa’:
In 2018, Short Story Day Africa is seeking innovative short fiction set in the rooms, the passages, the bars and the lobbies of hotels across the continent, as well as metafiction exploring Africa as a hotel herself. If these walls could talk, what story would they tell?
The resulting anthology from the longlisted entries, Hotel Africa: New Short Fiction from Africa, will be edited by Helen Moffett, who will select three editing fellows to work alongside her as part of the SSDA/Worldreader Editing Mentorship, now in its third year.
‘This year’s longlist was particularly difficult to decide’, SSDA Executive Editor Rachel Zadok says. ‘Like last year, the slushpile was read by a team of professional editors with an eye on development, so that no talent, no matter how raw, was overlooked. Instead of looking simply to the most polished stories to make up the list, we looked at the originality of the story. We looked for that sparkle in a writer’s voice that’s almost impossible to define, but when you see it, it creates a buzz in your brain. Of course, this doesn’t mean that there are no polished writers on the list, just that the playing field was more equal. The stories on the longlist each explore the theme in unique and fascinating ways.
‘We’re pleased to see that quite a few stories come from writers who attended the Flow Workshops, and that writers who have previously been longlisted and have participated in Flow Workshops and the Development Editing Process, like Harriet Anena and Lester Walbrugh, have come so far in their storytelling. They’ve gone from “good” to ‘”wow, fantastic!”
‘We’re also seeing a greater number of stories from previously under-represented countries. It’s wonderful to be publishing writers like Adam El Shalakany from Egypt, who has entered the SSDA Prize in the past but has never been placed. His story “Happy City Hotel” was one of the unanimous decisions, of which there were only six out of the twenty-one. After months of reading, which culminated in three and a half hours of deliberation, arguing and tears, each of us walked away a little heartbroken for the favourites we had to sacrifice. So to the writers who didn’t make the list this year: don’t give up. We’ve got our eyes on you.
‘We want to extend express thanks to our sponsors, the Goethe-Institut, the Miles Morland Foundation, Worldreader and the Beit Trust, and our publishing partner New Internationalist.’
Congratulations to the twenty-one long listed writers!
The 2018 Short Story Day Africa longlist
- ‘The Satans Inside My Jimmy’ by Harriet Anena (Uganda)
- ‘The Jollof Cook-off’ by Nkiacha Atemnkeng (Cameroon)
- ‘The Last Resident’ by Jayne Bauling (South Africa)
- ‘Mr Thompson’ by Noel Cheruto (Kenya)
- ‘The Layover’ by Anna Degenaar (South Africa)
- ‘A Miracle In Valhalla’ by Nnamdi Fred (Nigeria)
- ‘Of Birds and Bees’ by Davina Kawuma (Uganda)
- ‘Maintenance Check’ by Alinafe Malonje (Malawi)
- ‘Why Don’t You Live in the North?’ by Wamuwi Mbao (South Africa)
- ‘Slow Road to the Winburg Hotel’ by Paul Morris (South Africa)
- ‘The Snore Monitor’ by Chido Muchemwa (Zimbabwe)
- ‘Outside Riad Dahab’ by Chourouq Nasri (Morocco)
- ‘Broken English’ by Adorah Nworah (Nigeria)
- ‘Queens’ Children’s Little Feet’ by Godwin Oghenero Estella (Nigeria)
- ‘Door of No Return’ by Natasha Omokhodion-Banda (Zambia)
- ‘An Abundance of Lies’ by Faith Oneya (Kenya)
- ‘The Match’ by Troy Onyango (Kenya)
- ‘Supping at the Fountain of Lethe’ by Bryony Rheam (Zimbabwe)
- ‘Happy City Hotel’ by Adam El Shalakany (Egypt)
- ‘The Space(s) Between Us’ by Lester Walbrugh (South Africa)
- ‘Shithole’ by Michael Yee (South Africa)
SSDA is one of the most successful short story organisations on the continent, with all of its previous anthologies receiving significant critical acclaim. Two stories from the 2013 anthology, Feast, Famine & Potluck, were shortlisted for The Caine Prize for African Writing, with that year’s SSDA winner, Okwiri Oduor, going on to win the award. Terra Incognita (2014) and Water (2015) also received wide praise, including reviews from the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Sunday Times and the Financial Mail.