The shortlist for the Kwani? Manuscript Project will be made in April 2013 and the winners announced in May 2013. The Kwani? Manuscript Project was launched in April 2012. Kwani Trust called for the submission of unpublished fiction manuscripts of between 45,000 and 120,000 words from African writers across the continent and in the diaspora.
At stake is a Ksh 525,000 (equivalent of 6000 USD) cash prize. The winners and longlisted entries will be considered for publication by Kwani Trust and by regional and international publishing partners.
“we have received an amazing 282 unpublished fiction manuscripts from 19 African countries including at least 5 submissions from Rwanda, Zambia, Cameroon and Zimbabwe, more than 10 submissions from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,” says a statement from Kwani. “The number of entries has significantly exceeded our expectations – 50% of the submissions were sent two weeks before the 17th September 2012 deadline.”
The judging panel will be chaired by Sudanese novelist Jamal Mahjoub. Working with him will be a panel that includes the editor of Zimbabwe’s Weaver Press Irene Staunton, leading scholar of African literature Professor Simon Gikandi, Chairman of Kenyatta University’s Literature Department Dr. Mbugua wa Mungai and internationally renowned Nigerian writer Helon Habila.
“All submissions will be read anonymously as the judges look for new voices that explore and challenge the possibilities of the ‘African novel’. Kwani Trust will partner with Chimurenga in South Africa and Cassava Republic in Nigeria to further promote the prize,” added Kwani.
The Chair of Judges is Jamal Mahjoub, an award winning writer of mixed British/Sudanese heritage. He has written seven novels including The Drift Latitudes, Travelling with Djinns and The Carrier. His writing has been widely translated and has won a number of awards including the Guardian/Heinemann African Short Story Prize, the NH Vargas Llosa prize and the Prix d’Astrobale. He has also been the chair of the Caine Prize for African Writing.
Irene Staunton, co-founder of Weaver Press in Zimbabwe. She is the editor of the short story collections Writing Still: New Stories from Zimbabwe, Laughing Now: New Stories from Zimbabwe, Women Writing Zimbabwe and Writing Free.
Simon Gikandi, Robert Schirmer Professor of English at Princeton University and editor of PMLA, the official journal of the Modern Languages Association (MLA). He was born in Kenya and graduated with a B.A. [First Class Honors] in Literature from the University of Nairobi. His publications include Reading the African Novel, Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature, Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism, The Columbia Guide to East African Literature in English Since 1945 and Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
Dr. Mbugua wa Mungai, Chairman of the Literature Department at Kenyatta University. He received his PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for a thesis exploring identity politics in Nairobi matatu folklore. His research interests include urban folklore, popular
culture and disability. He is the editor of Remembering Kenya Volume 1: Identity, Culture and Freedom.
Helon Habila, author of Waiting for an Angel which won both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Caine Prize for African Writing. His second novel, Measuring Time, was published in 2007, won the 2008 Virginia Library Foundation Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. His third novel, Oil on Water, was
published in 2010 and was shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Orion Book Award.