Africa Region finalists for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize

Yes, as the headline says, the Africa Region finalists for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize were announced recently, and here in Accra, too!  Not too surprisingly, I guess, as the Chair of the Africa Regional jury this year was Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, writer, journalist and most recently editor of The Ghanaian Times newspaper.

The Africa Region winners are:

  • Best Book: The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone)
  • Best First Book: Happiness is a four-letter word by Cynthia Jele (South Africa)

There was pretty good coverage online here in Ghana, with stories on the Ghana Government website and also on Ghanaweb .  OK, some of the headlines were a little unrealistic, or should I say overoptimistic, but still it is something.

My colleague bloggers and book lovers, ImageNations and Geosi Reads were quick to blog about the lists.  More power to them.  The more people who know about these achievements, the better.

And of course the more likely the books will become available to we omnivorous readers of contemporary African literature.  I am not surprised at the choice of the Aminatta Forna book; it has had pretty good reviews.  I guess I will just have to wait until the Jele book hits the international distribution circuit!


Commonwealth Writers’ Prize – Africa shortlists

I don’t think I could do any better than the Africa is a Country blog in mentioning the Africa shortlists for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

I am always happy to see these annual shortlists, to see whether there is anything I have read or should put on my TBR pile.  I suspect I will add Helon Habila’s book Oil on water to a reading wishlist, as well as Aminatta Forna’s The memory of love and E C Osondu’s Voice of America.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that not only are the many South Africans on the list are unknown to me, but I suspect likely to remain so.  There isn’t much South African fiction available here in Ghana, despite a fairly large community of South Africans living and working here.

A pity there was no Ghanaian nominee this year, but not too surprising.