From the longlist of 11 entries to a strong shortlist of 6 stories.
Following the feedback of our judges and readers on the longlist, we do not doubt any of the stories making the shortlist, and this particularly emphasizes the quality of stories we received as well as that of those that have made it this far. Thus, we acknowledge the assiduousness of our judges in making this list possible.
Also, we consider ourselves fortunate to be witnessing this period in African history and literature, and to be positioned as bearers of these tremendous reads to the world!
Mentioned in no order of importance:
1. “Superposition” – Justin Clement (Nigeria)
2. “Iphopho Le Vezandlebe” – Tshepiso Mabula (South Africa)
3. “Sinmot” – Blessing Nwodo (Nigeria)
4. “Should have Listened to Mother” – Mandisi Nkomo (South Africa)
5. “Hunger for Crystals” – Ernestine-Vera Kabushemeye (Burundi)
6. “Eavesdroppers” – Mary-Ann Egbudom (Nigeria)
Our judges have praised “Iphopho Le Vezandlebe” for its excellent narrative and intriguing weaving of time that allowed the story to move several bodies and minds effortlessly through loops of time. Justin Clement’s story, “Superposition,” received effusive mentions for its character-development strategies and the way it deftly shifts scenes in the mind of the readers. “Sinmot” by Blessing Nwodo also stood out for the vivid world it builds, a world crafted not only to upend familiar understanding of power dynamics but provoke readers into reconsidering popular understanding of the present. “Should have Listened to Mother” by Mandisi Nkomo packs a lot into making highly remarkable characters around whom the plot pivots, “Hunger for Crystals” by Ernestine-Vera Kabushemeye wields a story whose own materials penetrate the characters, and “Eavesdroppers” develops the main character whose presence fills up the plot without consuming it.
Once again, we are happy about this shortlist, and we hope that the coming weeks will yield a worthy winner from this already excellent pool.
Given the strength of the stories in this shortlist and the Prize’s vision to support literature on and outside the continent, not only will each shortlisted story receive $200; the strongest entries from the submissions received by the Prize will be published in an edited volume by 2022.
To the shortlisted writers, cheers!