Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2019 shortlist

Erica Sugo Anyadike, Alice Gichuru on Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2019 shortlist.

Erica Sugo Anyadike and Alice Gichuru are on the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2019 shortlist announced on October 1, 2019.

Wasafiri, launched in 1984, is a magazine for international contemporary writing based in the UK. It is renowned for publishing some of the world’s most distinguished writers like Chinua Achebe, Kamau Brathwaite, Nadine Gordimer, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Michael Ondaatje, Vikram Seth, Gillian Slovo and Ben Okri amongst many others.

The magazine’s QMUL Wasafiri New Writing Prize was launched ten years ago to support new writers, with no limits on age, gender, nationality or background. The prize is handed out in the categories of fiction, poetry, and life writing. Some of the previous winners of the prize have been Deirdre Shanahan (2018), Ndinda Kioko (2017), Niamh MacCabe (2016), and others.

The prize this year, which attracted entries from 46 countries, will be judged by Louise Doughty (fiction), Warsan Shire (poetry), and Nikesh Shukla (life writing). The shortlists for the three categories announced on October 1 are;

Fiction judged by Louise Doughty

  • Susan Downer (UK), Gatherin
  • Alicia Mietus (UK), Third Person Female
  • Prateek Nigam (India), Less Than Perfect
  • Erica Sugo Anyadike (Kenya), How to Marry an African President
  • James Young (UK), Hard Borders

Life writing judged by Nikesh Shukla

  • Hannah Austin (UK), Natural Causes
  • Sofia Batchelor (UK), Human Resources
  • Alice Gichuru (Kenya), The Perfect Handspring
  • David McVey (UK), A Losing School Team
  • Janet Olearski (Portugal), Smokers

Poetry judged by Warsan Shire

  • Emily Franklin (United States), Japan, Autumn
  • Miriama Gemmell (New Zealand), family tree
  • Joanna Johnson (Spain), Pantoum of Soldiers
  • Desiree Seebaran (Trinidad and Tobago), Picong
  • Thomas Waller (UK), Diaries from the Third Millenium

Of the shortlist, Founding Editor and Chair of the Judges, Susheila Nasta, said: ‘It’s an exciting time for Wasafiri and for the prize. Once again, we have had a range of distinctive new writing. The shortlist in all genres was not only engaging, diverse and ambitious but speaks to the times.’

As indicated, there is an African interest in this prize as Erica Sugo Anyadike is in the running for the fiction prize and Alice Gichuru is in the reckoning for the Life Writing Prize. Erica Sugo Anyadike has been on the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2019 shortlist and the Writivism Short Story Prize 2015 Longlist. Alice Gichuru, who also uses the pen name Muthoni Wa Gichuru, has won the Burt Prize for African Young Adult Literature Kenya 2018 and been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Scholarship in 2017 as well as in 2018.

The winners, to be published by Wasafiri in print and online and receive a £1,000 cash prize, will be announced on November 9, 2019, at the British Library, UK.


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