Nigerian writer Elnathan John wins 2019 Prix Les Afriques for the French translation of his novel Born on a Tuesday

Nigerian novelist Elnathan John and his French translator Céline Schwaller have been awarded the Prix Les Afriques for Né un mardi, the French translation of Born on a Tuesday.

The prize, awarded since 2016 by the Swiss literary organisation CENE Littéraire, comes with €5,400 prize money (about R86,000) and a work of art. In addition, CENE Littéraire purchases 100 copies of the book.

The judges, chaired by Ambroise Kom of Cameroon, called Born on a Tuesday ‘a powerful first novel, perfectly mastered, which immerses us in contemporary Nigeria and paints a complex portrait of this giant of Africa undergoing major changes and facing unprecedented religious, social and economic crises’.

Né un mardi topped a shortlist of five titles, which included a French translation of Nigeria Prize winner Abubakar Adam Ibrahim’s Season of Crimson Blossoms.

About the book:

In the far reaches of northwestern Nigeria, Dantala lives among a gang of street boys who sleep under a kuka tree. During the election, the boys are paid by the Small Party to cause trouble. When their attempt to burn down the opposition’s local headquarters ends in disaster, Dantala must run for his life, leaving his best friend behind. He makes his way to a mosque that provides him with food, shelter, and guidance. With his quick aptitude and modest nature, Dantala becomes a favored apprentice to the mosque’s benevolent sheikh. But before long, he is faced with a terrible conflict of loyalties. His mother is dying back in his native village, his brothers have joined a rival sect, and one of the sheikh’s closest advisers begins to raise his own radical movement. As bloodshed erupts in the city around him, Dantala must decide what kind of Muslim—and what kind of man—he wants to be.

Read more about Born on a Tuesday at the publisher’s homepage.

The JRB extends congratulations to John, Schwaller and their publisher, Editions Métailié.

Image: CENE Littéraire

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