News

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Saah Millimono in Nairobi for Kwani? Manuscript Project Awards
Date: 27/11/2013

Kwani? Manuscript Project prize winners Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Saah Millimono are travelling to Nairobi this week for Kwani Trust’s 10th Anniversary (kwaniat.kwani.org). As part of Kwani Trust’s anniversary celebrations and reflections, Kwani? Manuscript Project Series Editor and Judge Ellah Allfrey will award the Kwani? Manuscript Prize to Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (1st place), Saah Millimono (2nd place) and Timothy Kiprop Kimutai (3rd place).

Between 27th-30th November 2013 Kwani? celebrates a decade in artistic, literary and media production.  Over the four days, Kwani Trust will host public literary lectures, book launches, video installations, readings that feature Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi, Binyavanga Wainaina as part of a longer reflection on the place of contemporary East African and African Literature within a 50-year old political and social context. For the full programme see here

On the evening of Thursday 28th November the Kwani Trust Board of Trustees will host a 10 Year Anniversary Gala Dinner with readings from Binyavanga Wainaina, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, music and mingling. During the evening Kwani Trust Managing Editor Billy Kahora and Kwani? Manusript Project judge Ellah Wakatama Allfrey will introduce the Kwani? Mansuscript Prize and present Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Saah Millimono and Timothy Kiprop Kimutai with awards. Over the course of four days all three writers will read from their prize-winning manuscripts, to be published by Kwani Trust in Spring 2014.

 

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey is Series Editor for Kwani? Manuscript Project
Date: 27/11/2013

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey will be working as series editor on the next stages of the Kwani? Manuscript Project.

Kwani Trust will publish the three winners and two additional novels submitted for the prize next Spring. Formerly deputy editor of Granta and a judge of the Kwani Manuscript Project, Allfrey will be working closely with the five writers over the coming months to develop and fulfill the literary promise the prize identified in their writing.

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey is the former deputy editor of Granta magazine and began her career at Penguin before joining Jonathan Cape, Random House where she was senior editor. She currently works as a book critic, editor and broadcaster. A regular contributor to NPR, her writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Observer and the Telegraph. She sits on the board of the Writers’ Centre Norwich and the arts selection panel for the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre. As well as serving as deputy Chair of the Caine Prize for African Writing, she is a patron of the Etisalat Literature Prize. She has served on numerous judging panels including the David Cohen Prize, the Caine Prize for African Writing and the BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Literature. Her introduction to Woman of the Aeroplanes by Kojo Laing (Pearson, African Writers Series) was published in 2012. A Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, Allfrey was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to the publishing industr

 

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi wins Kwani? Manuscript Prize
Date: 01/07/2013

Uganda’s Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi has won the Kwani? Manuscript Project, a new literary prize for unpublished fiction by African writers, for her novel The Kintu Saga.

2nd place has been awarded to Liberia’s Saah Millimono for One Day I Will Write About This War and 3rd place to Kenya’s Timothy Kiprop Kimutai for The Water Spirits.

The winners were selected from a shortlist of seven by a high-profile panel of judges chaired by award-winning Sudanese novelist Jamal Mahjoub and including 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.

Chair of Judges, Jamal Mahjoub said:

“All three titles chosen by the judges display an urge to engage with the complexities of modern day Africa. They tackle issues such as civil war, the struggle against poverty, and the continent’s historical heritage, among other themes. As a manuscript award this prize naturally seeks to focus less on finding a perfect finished product than work which shows literary promise as well as a breadth and depth of vision. The winner and two runners up all reflect these values.

Read more

 

Kwani? Manuscript Prize Announces Shortlist
Date: 17/06/2013

The Kwani? Manuscript Project, a new one-off literary prize for unpublished fiction from African writers, is delighted to announce a shortlist.

The seven shortlisted titles, selected from a longlist of 30, are:

Ayobami Adebayo, Stay with Me (Nigeria)

Ayesha Harruna Attah, Saturday’s People (Ghana / US)

Stanley Gazemba, Ghettoboy (Kenya)

Toni Kan, The Carnivorous City (Nigeria)

Timothy Kiprop Kimutai, The Water Spirits (Kenya)

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, The Kintu Saga (Uganda / UK)

Saah Millimono, One Day I Will Write About This War (Liberia)

Read a short biography and synopses for each of the seven shortlisted authors and manuscripts here.

The shortlist has been selected, without the author’s name attached, by a high-profile panel of judges including 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 Chair of Judges, award-winning Sudanese novelist Jamal Mahjoub, said:

‘The five judges of the Kwani? Manuscript prize 2013 have carefully worked through a longlist of 30. These showed a wide range of styles, subjects and regional concerns. The judges were primarily looking for works that show promise in terms of the writing itself as well as the breadth and depth of vision brought to bear by the authors. The final shortlist of seven entries reflects the overall consensus of the judges and summarises their individual interests.’

Read more

 

Kwani? Manuscript Prize Longlist
Date: 12/04/2013

The Kwani? Manuscript Project, a new one-off literary prize for unpublished fiction from African writers, is delighted to announce a longlist of 30 titles:

Jumoke Verissimo, A Night Without Darkness (Nigeria)

John Nkemngong Nkengasong, Across the Mongolo (Cameroon)

Nick Wood, Azanian Bridges (South Africa / UK)

Emmanuel Iduma, Becoming God (Nigeria)

Muthal Naidoo, Born Different (South Africa)

Toni Kan, Carnivorous City (Nigeria)

Ponatshego Moshwa, Diary of a Criminal (Botswana)

Tony Mochama, Dining with the Dictators (Kenya)

Stanley Gazemba, Ghettoboy (Kenya)

Eden Nthebolan, Homebrew (Botswana)

Philo Ikonya, Invincible Nubia (Kenya / Norway)

Abdu A. Mohiddin, Monsoon and Miracle (Kenya / UK)

Tsitsi Dangarembga, My Mother’s Breasts (Zimbabwe)

Saah Millimono, One Day I Will Write About This War (Liberia)

Philip Begho, Penny for an Orphan (Nigeria)

W. E. Mkufya, Pilgrims from Hell (Tanzania)

Manu Herbstein, Ramseyer’s Ghost (Ghana)

Ayesha Harruna Attah, Saturday’s People (Ghana / US)

Ayobami Adebayo, Stay with Me (Nigeria)

Nikhil Singh, Taty Went West (South Africa)

C.A. Davids, The Blacks of Cape Town (South Africa)

Bisi Daniels, The Colour of Oil (Nigeria)

Nicholas Ochiel, The Haggard Masturbator (Kenya)

Mbuh Tennu Mbuh, The Inheritors (Cameroon)

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, The Kintu Saga (Uganda / United Kingdom)

Emmanuel John Hevi, The Mad Brigadier (Ghana)

Timothy Kiprop Kimutai, The Water Spirits (Kenya)

Christopher Mlalazi, They are Coming (Zimbabwe / US)

Blessing Musariri, Useful Knowledge for the World Class Detective (Zimbabwe)

Clifton Gachagua, Zephyrion (Kenya)

Kwani? Manuscript Project Update
Date: 03/04/2013

We are now extremely close to being able to announce our longlist for the Kwani? Manuscript Project. Our longlisting panel made up of writers, editors and critics from East, West and Southern Africa, the UK and the US has read, reflected and reported back on the 280+ qualifying submissions received for the prize. However, we want to be absolutely sure we get the longlist right and so now need to take a few more days for re-reading and consultation before making a final decision. We will make the announcement at the beginning of next week. Thank you for your patience with us and more very soon.

 

 

 

Kwani? Manuscript Project Update
Date: 21/01/2013

We had an amazing response to our call for unpublished novel manuscripts with over 250 qualifying fiction manuscripts received from 19 African countries.  We know writers and readers are now eagerly awaiting news from us and so wanted to provide an update on the longlisting and judging process.

The number of entries significantly exceeded our expectations - 50% of the submissions were sent two weeks before the 17th September 2012 deadline. To do justice to this response and make sure each manuscript gets the careful consideration it deserves, we've had to allow more time for reading and judging.

The submissions have all been anonymised and a team of professional longlisters has been hard at work reading and searching out voices and stories that challenge and explore the idea of the 'African novel'.  We will be announcing a longlist of c.30 titles in the middle of March 2013.

This longlist will then be sent to our judging panel, chaired by award-winning 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, debated and judged anonymously by this high profile panel of writers, editors and critics.  They will then announce a shortlist in May 2013 and the winners in June 2013.  

Two of our judges, Jamal Mahjoub and Helon Habila, were recently with us in Nairobi for the 2012 Kwani? Litfest (litfest.kwani.org). It was great to hear them share their excitement about judging the prize in Q&A sessions at the festival.  Jamal Mahjoub has been Chair of Judges for the Caine Prize for African Writing.  Helon Habila won the Caine Prize in 2001 and recently edited The Granta Book of the African Short Story.  For more information about our judging panel, updates on the Kwani? Manuscript Project and footage from the 2012 Kwani? Litfest, keep watching: manuscript.kwani.org.

While the judging of the prize is taking place, we also want to continue the conversation about the foundations and possibilities of the 'African novel'.  We will therefore be sharing a series of provocative comments and essays which question and explore the idea of the 'African novel' with contributions from AK Kaiza, Imraan Coovadia, Binyavanga Wainaina, Véronique Tadjo and Boniface Mongo-Mboussa.  We hope these will inspire new writing and generate debate.  Read the first essays in the series from AK Kaiza and Boniface Mongo-Mboussa here and join the conversation by following us on Twitter @kwanitrust.

 

Kwani? Manuscript Project Judging Timeline Announced
Date: 18/10/2012

Following the close of the Kwani? Manuscript Project, we have received an amazing 282 unpublished fiction manuscripts from 19 African countries including at least 5 submissions from Rwanda, Zambia, Cameroon and Zimbabwe, more than 10 submissions from Botswana, Ghana and Uganda, over 20 submissions from both South Africa and the Diaspora, and over 65 submissions from both Kenya and Nigeria.

The number of entries has significantly exceeded our expectations - 50% of the submissions were sent two weeks before the 17th September 2012 deadline. To do justice to this response and to the writers who shared their work with us, we have decided to allot more time for reading and judging. Therefore the prize judges will announce the shortlist in April 2013 and the winners in May 2013.Read more

 

The Contemporary ‘African Novel’?: Contexts and Possibilities
Date: 29/09/2012

The Kwani? Manuscript Project Kwani Trust’s new literary prize for African Writing was set up to celebrate the African novel – its adaptability and resilience. Launched in april of this year, the prize called for submission of unpublished manuscripts from across the continent and the Diaspora. The prize was envisaged in an attempt to uncover and promote fresh,  original writing that challenges the possibilities of the African novel, and to start a conversation through this writing. Submissions closed on 17th September 2012 and the response to our call-out exceeded expectations, with close to 300 manuscripts received from diverse locations from Sierra Leone to Rwanda, Zambia to Cameroon, the Czech Republic to China.

In the context of this, Kwani Trust is holding a panel discussion at the Nairobi International Book Fair to question the idea of the contemporary African novel, and explore its foundations and possibilities.  Bringing together perspectives from writers, publishers and critics, the discussion will explore past and future directions for the African novel and is intended to both inspire new writing and provoke debate.

Date: Saturday 29th September 2012
Time: 2pm - 4pm
Venue: Sarit Centre Expo Hall, Nairobi.

Speakers
Dr. Tom Odhiambo – Lecturer, Department of Literature, University of Nairobi (@uonbi)
Billy Kahora – Managing Editor, Kwani Trust (@kwanitrust)
Kinyanjui Kombani – Author (@kkombani)

Prize Closed to New Submissions
Date: 23/09/2012

The deadline for the Kwani? Manuscript Project has now passed and we are no longer accepting submissions for the prize. We’ve had an amazing response to our ‘call out’ with close to 300 manuscripts received from over 17 African countries. Watch this space for updates on the judging panel and timeline, as well as announcement of the longlisted and shortlisted manuscripts.

While you wait for news, join our conversation about the African novel – its foundations and future possibilities. Read more

Less Than 1 Week to Go: In Search of New Voices, Forms and Locations
Date: 12/09/2012

We’ve had a fantastic response from across the continent to our call for unpublished novel manuscripts. We already have over 130 manuscripts from 13 African countries under consideration for cash prizes and publication, and are looking forward to the late nights of reading ahead of us.

With less than 1 week to go to the deadline, we are still looking for new voices, new forms and new locations. The Kwani? Manuscript Project offers African writers a one-off opportunity to be celebrated and published on a list alongside Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Binyavanga Wainaina. So, if you know talented writers, send them to manuscript.kwani.org and make sure they are ready to submit. And if you ARE a talented writer, stop playing with those sentences and hit ‘send’ to manuscript@kwani.org.

The Kwani? Manuscript Project was set up to celebrate the African novel and its adaptability and resilience. As the 17th September deadline approaches, we will be launching a series of provocative essays that question and explore the idea of the African novel, its foundations and possibilities. With contributions from Imraan Coovadia, Binyavanga Wainaina, Véronique Tadjo and Boniface Mongo-Mboussa, we hope this will both inspire new writers and generate debate. Look out for this and the announcement of our high profile judging panel coming soon.

Deadline Extended to 17th September 2012
Date: 16/07/2012

The deadline for the Kwani? Manuscript Project, Kwani Trust's new literary prize for African writing, has been extended. You now have until 17th September 2012 to submit your unpublished fiction manuscript and be in with a chance of winning both cash prizes and international publication for your novel.

In addition, Kwani Trust will be launching a series of essays by leading African writers on writing. Including contributions from Aminatta Forna, Leila Aboulela, Ellen Banda-Aaku and Helon Habila, the essays will offer advice, support and inspiration for developing your novel manuscript over the next 2 months.

Ellah Allfrey, Deputy Editor of Granta, on the Kwani? Manuscript Project
Date: 05/07/2012

'Kwani Trust’s new prize for an unpublished, full-length of work by an African writer is just the kind of innovative challenge that one would expect from a literary enterprise that has upped the game nationally, regionally and beyond the continent.'

Ellah Allfrey is Deputy Editor of Granta, an international literary journal of new writing. Before joining Granta, she was Senior Editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House where she continued to publish history as well as introducing a list of young African writers including Brian Chikwava, Dinaw Mengestu and Peter Akinti. She sits on the board of Writers’ Centre Norwich and the Council of the Caine Prize for African Writing. A Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, Allfrey was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to the publishing industry

Eligible word count reduced to 45,000 words
Date: 30/05/2012

Responding to your feedback, we’ve decided to lower the eligible word count of our new prize for unpublished manuscripts to 45,000 words.  We’ve realized too many great novels have been published that are below 60,000 words  - from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby to Albert Camus’s L’Etranger to Mariama Bâ’s So Long a Letter.  We don’t want to miss out on yours!

Manuscripts between 45,000 and 120,000 words are now eligible for the Kwani? Manuscript Project. 

Binyavanga Wainaina speaks about the Kwani? Manuscript Project
Date: 04/05/2012

‘For the past few years, a new kind of writing talent has emerged out of the continent. In their twenties and thirties, and writing in English - these writers are not returning diasporas, they were born and bred on the continent. African writers are all over the world - but the most exciting work I have seen is coming from those of the information age.  Original in style, these writers do not see themselves as being distant from anywhere. They speak to the world. This competition speaks to their confidence, and the confidence of a new generation of African writers, wherever they are.’  


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