Sierra Leonean author Aminatta Forna and South Africa’s Cynthia Jele were today announced as the winners of the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the Africa region.
Forna’s book, The Memory of Lovewon the “Best Book” prize, while Jele’s “Happiness is a Four Letter Word” bagged the “Best First Book” prize.
Both books were selected from a final shortlist dominated by South African and Nigerian writers. Out of the 12 titles that made the shortlist for the two prizes, seven were by South African writers and four by Nigerian authors.
Forna and Jele will join other regional winners for the final stages of the competition at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in May. Overall prize winners to be picked from the regional winners will be announced on May 21, 2011. The winners of the overall Best Book and Best First Book prizes will receive cash prizes of £10,000 and £5,000, respectively.
Forna’s book will compete with Emma Donaghue’s Room, David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, and Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance for the top prize in the Best Book category. Jele’s book will line up against Katrina Best’s Bird Eat Bird Mischa Hiller’s Sabra Zoo and Craig Cliff’s A Man Melting by Craig Cliff.
Commenting on the results, David Clarke, Chairman, Macquarie Group Foundation said his foundation was delighted that the selected literary works will be promoted globally.
“We await with great interest the announcement of the overall Commonwealth Writers’ Prize winners in May,” he said.
The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, supported by the Macquarie Group Foundation and now in its 25th year,is internationally recognised for promoting ground-breaking works of fiction from across the globe. It is considered one of the leading awards in the literary world and over the years, the award has served as a platform for African writers seeking to reach an international audience. For more about the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and other notable prizes, please click here.
Below are the Africa region shortlists for 2011.
- The Memory of Loveby Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone)
- Men of the South by Zukiswa Wanner (South Africa)
- The Unseen Leopard by Bridget Pitt (South Africa)
- Oil on Water by Helon Habila (Nigeria)
- Blood at Bay by Sue Rabie (South Africa)
- Banquet at Brabazan by Patricia Schonstein (South Africa)
Best First Book:
- Happiness is a Four Letter Word by Cynthia Jele (South Africa)
- Bitter Leaf by Chioma Okereke (Nigeria)
- The Fossil Artist by Graeme Friedman (South Africa)
- Colour Blind by Uzoma Uponi (Nigeria)
- Voice of America by E. C. Osondu (Nigeria)
- Wall of Days by Alastair Bruce (South Africa)