[The JRB Daily] Short Story Day Africa Prize ‘Disruption’ shortlist announced—featuring 8 African writers from 5 countries

The shortlist for the seventh Short Story Day Africa Prize has been announced, the JRB can exclusively reveal!

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 R11,500) for first place, $200 for second place, and $100 for third place. 

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

The SSDA anthology, featuring the twenty-one stories by the longlisted authors, will be published in September 2021.

The eye-catching cover for the anthology was designed by Megan Ross.

Scroll down for the shortlist!

From Short Story Day Africa:

Presenting this shortlist feels like the kind of relief that comes with the end of a lockdown. When we chose ‘disruption’ as a topic and title for the 2020 Short Story Day Africa anthology, we had no idea we would be facing a period of massive global disruption beyond our control. 

But some things don’t change, and the SSDA team once again wrestled with the difficult task of choosing a shortlist from the twenty-one longlisted stories that appear in the Disruption anthology. Nine experienced volunteer judges, using a points system thrashed out over the years, were once again so impressed by the calibre of the stories that after the usual wrangling, and numerous recounts (rather like the American election), a shortlist of eight was agreed upon. For the first time, no majority of the judges gravitated towards a single story—and this itself is testimony to the quality of the stories in this anthology. We congratulate not only those shortlisted but all twenty-one contributor authors. We’re also hugely grateful to all those who made the time to judge the stories, and for the seriousness and commitment they brought to the process.

SSDA prides itself on the intensive editing process into which we enter with our contributors: as Helen Moffett (who was to edit this volume along with Rachel Zadok) and her family were afflicted by Covid-19 at all the critical junctures of this project, Board members Jason Mykl Snyman and Karina Szczurek joined Rachel as editors. They did a superb job, continuing the commitment to developing authors and their skills that is a hallmark of the project. Those who read the ‘before’ and ‘after’ versions of the stories always comment on how dramatically editing levels the playing fields. This is an excellent outcome, but it does make choosing a shortlist a far more onerous task.

Nevertheless, here’s the shortlist for the SSDA 2019–20 anthology, Disruption, in alphabetical order:

  • ‘Static’ by Alithanayn Abdulkareem (Nigeria)
  • ‘Dɔrə’s Song’ by Victor Forna (Sierra Leone)
  • ‘The Fish Tank Crab’ by Genna Gardini (South Africa)
  • ‘Shelter’ by Mbozi Haimbe (Zambia)
  • ‘Before We Die Unwritten’ by Innocent Ilo (Nigeria)
  • ‘Laatlammer’ by Julia Smuts Louw (South Africa)
  • ‘Five Years Next Sunday’ by Idza Luhumyo (Kenya)
  • ‘When the Levees Break’ by Edwin Okolo (Nigeria)

Congratulations to you all!

One ongoing joy of this project has been witnessing how SSDA has acted as a greenhouse for writers. No less than five authors on this shortlist are SSDA alumni who have had their stories appear in our previous anthologies. We are delighted and privileged to have had the opportunity to witness them hone their skills and develop their voices over the past few short years. This gives us added confidence that the writers that find their way to this project are indeed ones to watch in the future—a rewarding prospect. 

Our congratulations also go to our readers, who will soon have a brilliant collection of the best kinds of disruption in their hands or on their screens.

The three winners will be announced on 21 June, 2021. Disruption: New Short Fiction from Africa, will be launched globally on 7 September 2021, in partnership with Catalyst Press.  


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