[The JRB Daily] 2019 Short Story Day Africa Prize ‘Disruption’ longlist announced—featuring 21 African writers from nine countries

This longlist for the seventh annual Short Story Day Africa Prize 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 R13,500) for first place, $200 for second place, and $100 for third place. 

The previous winners of the prize are Adam El Shalakany, Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor, Sibongile Fisher, Cat Hellisen, Diane Awerbuck and Okwiri Oduor.

Presciently, this year’s prize theme is ‘Disruption’. 

The resulting anthology from the longlisted entries, Disruption: New Short Fiction from Africa, will be edited by Rachel Zadok, founder of Short Story Day Africa and author of Sister-Sister and Gem Squash Tokoloshe.

Zadok says:

‘This year, as always, the first round of reading was blind. An experienced team of editors read with a keen eye for original writing that exhibited ingenuity and a strong voice. We couldn’t have foreseen the disruptions that Covid-19 would cause, from team members contracting the virus, to not being able to access funding, to key team members who volunteer their time no longer being able to dedicate the many hours it takes to put together a longlist due to no longer having secure incomes. 

‘Nor could we meet in person due to Covid-19 restrictions to debate the “long longlist” as a team. Instead, we discussed and defended our favourite stories in the columns of an excel spreadsheet. We looked for writing that had, at its core, that special something that is difficult to define but that shines through and sticks with the reader. The longlisted stories all tackle the theme of ‘Disruption’ in ingenious ways and represent a range of genres, from Innocent Ilo’s imaginative exploration of a post-apocalyptic African village, to Victor Forna’s stylistic take on the destruction of humanity. Masiyaleti Mbewe’s brutal tale of apartheid and climate change through the eyes of a time-travelling cyborg sits alongside Genna Gardini’s diverting allegory of companionship and an escaped exotic pet. There are many other wonderful takes on the theme and we believe each story on the list has something new to offer to the African literary world. 

‘The list this year features stories from across the continent. We’re especially excited to be publishing stories from Libya and Sierra Leone, both firsts for Short Story Day Africa. We’re also thrilled to be publishing our first-ever translated story, ‘Armando’s Virtuous Crime’ by Najwa Bin Shatwan, brilliantly translated from Arabic into English by Sawad Hussain. 

‘We’re grateful to all the writers for trusting us with their stories. Judging this year was extremely close-cut, with stories in the metaphorical arena as we tried to whittle the list down to only twenty-one. To the writers who didn’t make it: We encourage you to keep writing, and keep submitting. 

‘We’d like to express our thanks to all the incredible people who donated towards the project or bought copies of Hotel Africa, available on Amazon, and our publishing partner New Internationalist.

‘Congratulations to the twenty-one longlisted writers!’

The shortlist—first, second, and third place—will be announced in 2021. 

2020 Short Story Day Africa longlist

  • ‘A Defiant Departure’ by MacSmart Ojiludu – Nigeria 
  • ‘Another Zombie Story’ by Kanyinsola Olorunnisola – Nigeria 
  • ‘Armando’s Virtuous Crime’ by Najwa Bin Shatwan translated in to English by Sawad Hussain – Libya 
  • ‘Before the Rains Came’ by Nadia Ahidjo-Iya – Cameroon 
  • ‘Before We Die Unwritten’ by Innocent Ilo – Nigeria 
  • ‘Between the Hard Earth and Dry Heaven’ by Melusi Nkomo – Zimbabwe
  • ‘Dɔrə’s Song’ by Victor Forna – Sierra Leone 
  • ‘Enough’ by Nicholas Dawn – South Africa
  • ‘The Fishtank Crab’ by Genna Gardini – South Africa 
  • ‘The Girl Named Uku/phaza/mi/se/ka’ by Philisiwe Twijnstra – South Africa 
  • ‘The Girl Who Always Laughed’ by Doreen Anyango – Uganda 
  • ‘Kin’ by Masiyaleti Mbewe – Zambia
  • ‘Laatlammer’ by Julia Louw – South Africa 
  • ‘Lycaon Pictus’ by Liam Brickhill – Zimbabwe 
  • ‘The Mother’ by Jacob M’hango – Zambia 
  • ‘Objects in the Mirror Are Stranger Than They Appear’ by Kevin Mogotsi – Botswana 
  • ‘Shelter’ by Mbozi Haimbe – Zambia 
  • ‘The Sound of Betrayal’ by Idza Luhumyo – Botswana 
  • ‘Static’ by Alithnayn Abdulkareem – Nigeria
  • ‘Waiting to Die’ by Yefon Isabelle – Cameroon 
  • ‘When the Levees Break’ by Edwin Okolo – Nigeria 

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