WRITing FOR all africa

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

South Africans - with nine finalists out of 10 - dominate this year's prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize for the African region.

The only other person nominated in the two categories who is not South African is Nigeria's Uwem Akpan, whose novel Say You're One of Them, is nominated for Best First Book together with four South African writers, Jassy Mackenzie for Random Violence, Chris Marnewick for Shepherds and Butchers, Sue Rabie for Boston Snowplough, and Megan Voysey-Braig for Till We Can Keep an Animal.

Cultural activist Mandla Langa has been nominated for his latest novel, The Lost Colours of the Chameleon - and stands head-to-head for Best Book with Damon Galgut's The Imposter , academic Tim Keegan's My Life with the Duvals , Sindiwe Magona's Beauty's Gift and Zoë Wycomb's The One That Got Away.

The judging panel was chaired by Elinor Sisulu together with Nigeria's Kole Omotoso and Kenya's Billy Karanja Kahora.

"Once again Africa's publishing powerhouses, South Africa and Nigeria dominated the entries. Of over 50 entries received, all but two were from Kenya and two from Ghana. There was also an unusually high number of short story collections among the entries," said Sisulu.

The Commonwealth Writers' Prize, a highly valued award, rewards the best fiction written in English.

The two African regional winners will be announced on March 11 in Durban. These winners will then enter the final phase of the competition and go on to compete with six other finalists from Canada the Caribbean, Europe, South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific for the overall Best Book and Best First Book award.

The two overall winners will be announced on May 16 at the Auckland Writers' and Readers Festival in New Zealand.

Each of the regional winners will receive R15000 and in addition be invited to take part in a week-long series of community events and public readings alongside the final judging ceremony.

The overall Best Book winner will receive R150000.