Three writers have made the shortlist for the 2012 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. The three – Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (Nigeria), Sifiso Mzobe (South Africa), and Bridget Pitt (South Africa) – will compete for the prize, which is set to be announced on September 8, 2012 at the Civic Center, OzumbaMbadiwe in Nigeria.
Established in 2005 and named after Wole Soyinka, the celebrated Nigerian writer, the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa is a biennial award sponsored by the Lumina Foundation, in partnership with Nigerian telecommunications giant, Globacom. The prize is given to the best literary work produced by an African and the winner receives $20,000, making this one of the richest literary prizes dedicated to African literature.
To be eligible for the prize, a book must have been published within the two years preceding the award year.
The 2012 edition of the prize attracted a record 402 entries from 26 African countries. Fifteen writers made the shortlist, which was then whittled down to the final three.
Professor Adimora-Ezeigbo is a multiple award-winning scholar and writer, who presently teaches at the University of Lagos. She was shortlisted for her book, Roses and Bullets, which has been described as one of the best novels based on the Nigerian Civil War.
Sifiso Mzobe, who made the shortlist with his book, Young Blood, is a South African journalist and winner of the Sunday Times Literary Award 2011. His book tells the story of a Sipho, a “young blood” (slang for young man) who at seventeen, is a school dropout living in Umlazi, Durban. While Sipho helps out at his father’s mechanic shop during the day, he yearns for the flashy lifestyle that his friends enjoy. And soon enough he’s drawn into the criminal world – a world where car theft, hijacking and drug dealing are the order of the day for the township dwelling teenagers with no hope of ever finding gainful employment.
The third shortlisted author, Bridget Pitt is a Zimbabwe born South African writer with two published novels to her name, including The Unseen Leopard, which made the list. Pitt’s book was earlier shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Book Prize.
Previous award winners include Adaobi Tricia Unwaubani (2010) , Nnedi Okorafor (2008), and Sefi Attah (2006).