Kwani? Manuscript Project has announced its longlist for its one-off PanAfrican literary prize for unpublished novel manuscripts.
It includes 30 titles (no authors names were given as the judging process is ongoing) and among the 30 are two novel manuscripts from Botswana: Diary of a Criminal and Homebrew. Kenya, the home of Kwani?, had the most novels on the list (8) followed by Nigeria (6).
Other countries represented on the list are: Ghana, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Liberia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The complete long list can be seen online at http://manuscript.kwani.org/kwani-manuscript- project-news-longlist.php.
The Kwani? Manuscript Project was launched in April 2012 and called for the submission of unpublished novel manuscripts from African writers across the continent and in the diaspora.
The prize received over 280 qualifying submissions from 19 African countries.
The longlist of 30 has been selected by a panel of nine readers, made up of writers, editors and critics from East, West and Southern Africa, and the UK and the US. The longlist showcases literary fiction across a range of genres from fantasy to crime to historical fiction.
Kwani Trust’s Managing Editor, Billy Kahora said, “This longlist begins the actualization of a long held Kwani? ambition – to build a signifi cant novel series of new original voices across the continent.
To replicate the work we’ve been doing for the last ten years with the short fiction form, creative nonfiction, spoken word and poetry in East Africa when it comes to the novel form.”
The longlist has now been passed to our panel of judges, chaired by Sudanese novelist Jamal Mahjoub.
Working with him will be deputy editor of Granta magazine, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, leading scholar of African literature, Professor Simon Gikandi, Chairman of Kenyatta University’s Literature Department, Dr. Mbugua wa Mungai, editor of Zimbabwe’s Weaver Press, Irene Staunton and internationally renowned Nigerian writer, Helon Habila.
The manuscripts will be read anonymously by this high profi le panel, as the judges look for new voices that explore and challenge the possibilities of the African novel.
A shortlist will be announced at the beginning of June 2013 and the three winners announced at the end of June 2013.
The top three manuscripts will be awarded cash prizes totalling Ksh 525,000 ($6000). Kwani Trust’s Executive Director, Angela Wachuka said, “This prize speaks to a core pillar of our institution; the identifi cation, development and production of literary talent.”