Mubanga Kalimamukwento wins Drue Heinz Literature Prize 2024

Mubanga Kalimamukwento wins Drue Heinz Literature Prize 2024

Mubanga Kalimamukwento was declared the winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize 2024 on Tuesday, January 30, 2024.

The Drue Heinz Literature Prize, open to authors who have published a book-length collection of fiction or at least three short stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals, recognises and supports writers of short fiction. The manuscripts of the award, first bestowed in 1980, are judged anonymously by nationally known writers like Robert Penn Warren, Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, and Joan Didion. Some of the past winners of the University of Pittsburgh-based prize include Stewart O’Nan, Elizabeth Graver, Caroline Kim, Leslie Pietrzyk, and Ramona Reeves.

The judge for this year’s award is Angie Cruz, author of How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water and she selected Mubanga Kalimamukwento as this year’s winner for Obligations to the Wounded.

“These thematically linked stories deliver an intricate study of Zambian women living in both Zambia and abroad who are weighing their options of who to love, where to live, where to work,” said Cruz. “The author, with a poet’s restraint, has written stories that deftly negotiate the challenges and tribulations women face when they feel the pressure and duty to yield to the will of family, community, customs, country, and spiritual beliefs. Obligations to the Wounded is a graceful, touching, and generous collection.”

Obligations to the Wounded employs proverbs and short stories rooted in Zambian languages, culture, and place to examine the cost of womanhood through the voices of twelve Zambian women and girls The stories converse with global social problems through games, social media feuds, letters, and folklore and illustrate women’s burdens through the lens of religious expectation, migration, loss of language, death, intimate partner violence, and racial discrimination.

“An absolute dream come true to have been named this year’s winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, especially by a judge whose work I hold deep respect and admiration for,” said Kalimamukwento, the Kalemba Short Story Prize winner. “This is a prize I have been reading and entering for years, so a win is a kind of ‘Finally’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’ moment for me.”

Mubanga Kalimamukwento receives the cash prize of $15,000, publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press, and support in the nationwide promotion of their book.


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