[The JRB Daily] 2023 Island Prize for a Debut Novel from Africa longlist announced

The writers longlisted for the 2023 Island Prize for a Debut Novel from Africa have been announced.

This literary prize, founded by Karen Jennings, author of the Booker Prize-longlisted novel An Island and now in its second year, is open to debut African novelists, curated with the primary aim of helping African writers reach a wider audience and break into the United Kingdom publishing scene.

The prize is open to entries from across any and all genres.

‘The quality of this year’s submissions were incredibly strong, flooding in from across the entire continent’, the prize organisers say. ‘We received many submissions from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa, with further contributions from Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Mauritius, Zambia, Ethiopia, Somalia and Ghana.’

The longlisted entries will now be read in full and considered for shortlisting by Island Prize judges Jennings, Rachel Edwards (author) and Hamza Koudri (runner up for the 2022 Island Prize).

The winner and runners up will be awarded £500 (about R11,000) and £200 (about R4,500), respectively, and will receive detailed editorial feedback, mentorship from industry professionals, and be read by UK and US agents.

In addition, this year there is a £200 prize for the top entry from a writer from the Maghreb region. This has been initiated by Koudri, who donated his winnings to this cause.

2023 Island Prize longlist

  • ‘Bobo Hamham’ by Aganaba, Jesudubami Jemima (Nigeria)
  • ‘The Becoming-Nothing of Bodies’ by Olubunmi Familoni (Nigeria)
  • ‘A Mouth Full of Salt’ by Reem Gaafar (Sudan)
  • ‘No Poison, No Paradise’ by Nzeru Aquilar Nsaí (South Africa)
  • ‘Braids and Migraines’ by Andile MaShandu Cele (South Africa)
  • ‘Choosing an Outfit for the End of the World’ by Robyn Perros (South Africa)
  • ‘Carrying a Country on Your Forehead’ by Tanaka Chidora (Zimbabwe)
  • ‘Night’s Last Secrets’ by Felix Otis (Kenya)
  • ‘Captured’ by Immaculate Halla (Tanzania)

Last year’s winner of The Island Prize was South African writer Sarah Isaacs, for her manuscript ‘Glass Towers’.

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