Yewande Omotoso and NoViolet Bulawayo are among a number of writers from Africa longlisted for this year’s Dublin Literary Award.
Now in its twenty-eighth year, this award is the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English, with prize money of €100,000 (about R1.9 million).
Other writers from Africa nominated for the prize this year are Yara Nakahanda Monteiro, an Angolan writer and artist living in Portugal, for Loose Ties, translated by Sandra Tamele (published by Zukiswa Wanner’s press Paivapo Publishers); Mauritian author Vinod Busjeet for Silent Winds, Dry Seas; Egyptian author Reem Bassiouney for Sons of the People, translated by Roger Allen; and Egyptian-Canadian novelist and journalist Omar El Akkad for What Strange Paradise.
The award is organised by Dublin City Council, with nominations being submitted by library systems in major cities throughout the world.
Omotoso, a South African-based novelist, architect and designer, who was born in Barbados and grew up in Nigeria, was nominated by the City of Cape Town Library and Information Services for her novel An Unusual Grief:
We were absolutely blown away by An Unusual Grief. Felt an instant connection to the book, perhaps because it has a local setting (South Africa) or the daily issues of life that it confronts. While it deals with grief, it is not a gloomy book, thanks in large part to the art of storytelling that Omotoso displays throughout the novel. It is a beautifully written book that is raw in its emotion as it covers and conveys the many layers of grief.—City of Cape Town Library and Information Services
Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo’s novel Glory was nominated by the Boston Public Library in the United States and Biblioteca Vila de Gràcia in Barcelona, Spain:
Bulawayo’s reimagining of the overthrow of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s infamous authoritarian ruler, features a cast made up entirely of talking animals (Mugabe is the Old Horse). Bulawayo’s gift for storytelling is dazzling.—Boston Public Library, United States
The use of language in the novel colourful, poetic and also comedic illustrates the absurdity and surreal nature of a police state , built with the structure of animal stories that are typical of African tradition.—Biblioteca Vila de Gràcia, Barcelona, Spain
Seventy books were nominated for this year’s award, by eighty-four libraries from thirty-one countries. Fourteen are debut novels.
Nominations include twenty-nine novels in translation, from countries across Africa, Europe, Asia, the US, Canada, South America, Australia and New Zealand. Among the translated books are novels originally published in Arabic, Bulgarian, Dutch, Hindi, Korean, Slovene, Icelandic and Japanese. If the winning book has been translated, the author receives €75,000 and the translator receives €25,000.
The shortlist will be released on 28 March and the winner will be announced by Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr. Caroline Conroy, on 25 May 2023, as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin.
The international panel of judges who will select the shortlist and winner, features Gabriel Gbadamosi, an Irish and Nigerian poet, playwright and critic based in London; Marie Hermet, a writer and translator who teaches creative writing and translation at the Université Paris Cité; English writer Sarah Moss, the author of eight novels who teaches on the MA and MFA in creative writing at UCD; Doireann Ní Ghríofa, a bilingual poet, essayist and translator from County Clare in Ireland; and Arunava Sinha, who translates fiction, non-fiction and poetry from Bengali to English and from English to Bengali and has won several translation awards in India. The non-voting Chairperson is Professor Chris Morash, the Seamus Heaney Professor of Irish Writing at Trinity College Dublin.