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Kwani? one-off literary prize for Africa writing

Friday April 20 2012
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The Kwani? Manuscript Project calls for the submission of unpublished fiction manuscripts from African writers across the continent and in the diaspora. Photo/Alain Le Bot

Kwani Trust is inviting submissions for a one-off, new literary prize for African writing, which will celebrate the African novel and its adaptability and resilience.

The Kwani? Manuscript Project calls for the submission of unpublished fiction manuscripts from African writers across the continent and in the diaspora.

“Kwani has been in existence since 2003; it has done anthologies very well,” managing editor Billy Kahora said, “But we haven’t generated novel-length material that can keep up with the kind of material that’s out there.”

Mr Kahora said that East Africa is way behind in the contemporary novel, and that regional novels tend to emerge in a formulaic way, with text that is obviously framed for the export market in London and New York.

The prize seeks to recognise the possibilities of forming an ongoing genre that has re-emerged in the work of authors such as Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Congolese-born Alain Mabanckou.

Kahora said that although the bulk of material that Kwani? receives on a day-to-day basis lacks rigour, a call for submissions with a prize attached is an incentive that is expected to bring out good, high-quality writing.

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“When we put out a call for submissions of short stories to be published in the Kwani 06 journal, most stories were rigorous and well written. We hope to see the same this time around,” says Kahora.

The top three manuscripts will be awarded cash prizes, with the winner receiving Ksh300,000 ($3,750), first runner up Ksh150,000 ($1,875) and second Ksh75,000 ($940). The deadline for submissions is August 20.

Eligible participants should have at least one parent born in an African country who holds citizenship of the same.

Submissions should be adult literary or genre fiction while the manuscript must be new (unpublished).

The work should be in English or variations of English (“Englishes”) and should be limited to 60,000-120,000 words.

For details on formatting and more submission guidelines, email: [email protected]

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