2019 Voss Literary Prize Winner


The links below are to articles reporting on the winner of the 2019 Voss Literary Prize, Tim Winton, for his novel ‘The Shepherd’s Hut.’

For more visit:
https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au/articles/2019/12/10/143528/winton-wins-2019-voss-literary-prize-for-the-shepherds-hut/
https://www.booktopia.com.au/blog/2019/12/10/tim-winton-wins-the-2019-voss-literary-prize/

2019 Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Prizes Winners


The link below is to an article that takes a look at the winners of the 2019 Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Prizes.

For more visit:
https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au/articles/2019/12/06/143441/bridget-crack-wins-2019-tasmania-book-prize/

2019 Goodreads Choice Awards Winners


The links below are to articles reporting on the Goodreads Choice Awards winners for 2019.

For more visit:
https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1734-announcing-the-winners-of-the-2019-goodreads-choice-awards

2020 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards Shortlists


The links below are to articles reporting on the 2020 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlists.

For more visit:
https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au/articles/2019/12/02/143249/2020-victorian-premiers-literary-awards-shortlists-announced/
https://www.booktopia.com.au/blog/2019/12/03/see-the-2020-victorian-premiers-literary-awards-shortlists/

Nobel Prize for Literature Resignations


In recent times the Nobel Prize for Literature has been plagued by controversy – the link below is to an article that takes a look at the fairly recent resignations of members of the committee.

For more visit:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/dec/02/nobel-prize-for-literature-hit-by-fresh-round-of-resignations

2019 Walkley Book Award Winner


The links below are to articles reporting on the winner of the 2019 Walkley Book Award, Leigh Sales, for ‘Any Ordinary Day.’

For more visit:
https://www.booktopia.com.au/blog/2019/11/29/leigh-sales-wins-the-2019-walkley-book-award-for-any-ordinary-day/
https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au/articles/2019/11/29/143102/sales-wins-2019-walkley-book-award/

2019 Costa Book Awards Shortlist


The link below is to an article that takes a look at the shortlist for the 2019 Costa Book Awards.

For more visit:
https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au/articles/2019/11/28/143077/costa-book-awards-2019-shortlists-announced/

2019 Staunch Book Prize Winner


The link below is to an article that takes a look at the 2019 Staunch Book Prize Winner (for the best thriller novel in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered), Samantha Harvey for ‘The Western Wind.’

For more visit:
https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au/articles/2019/11/26/142923/medieval-mystery-the-western-wind-wins-2019-staunch-book-prize/

African literary prizes are contested — but writers’ groups are reshaping them



Best-selling Nigerian novelist and literary superstar Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Armando Babani/EPA-EFE

Doseline Kiguru, Rhodes University

Literary prizes do more than offer recognition and cash to writers and help readers decide what book to choose. They shape the literary canon, a country’s body of highly regarded writing. They help shape what the future classics might be.

But what if Africa’s biggest prizes are awarded by foreign territories; former colonial masters? Or what if African-born writers in the diaspora are routinely chosen as winners over writers living and working in Africa?

Debates have been raging over these issues in recent years, especially relating to the lucrative Caine Prize for African Writing.

The words ‘award’ or ‘prize’ imply that there was a selection process and the best emerged as winner. The awarding of value to a text through the literary prize industry involves selection and exclusion in which some texts and authors are foregrounded, becoming the canon.

The scholar John Guillory argues, in addition, for the need to

reconstruct a historical picture of how literary works are produced, disseminated, reproduced, reread, and retaught over successive generations and eras.

The issues are complex and the landscape is changing. My research covers how prizes create taste and canon – but also the increasing role played by literary organisations to shape those prizes and hence the canon.

Writers’ organisations mainly provide a social space for writers. There are dozens across the continent. Sometimes they include a publishing avenue, workshops, fellowships and competitions. In general, they have aimed to fill gaps left by mainstream literary bodies such as publishers, universities and schools, and book marketers.

To understand the process of creative writing on the African continent it’s useful to focus on the interrelationship between prize bodies and writers’ organisations in contemporary literary production.

The Caine, the Commonwealth and writers’ organisations

The Caine Prize for African Writing and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize are two major awards for contemporary Africa that have been cited as significant in promoting up-and-coming writers to become global writers. Both trade in the short story.

The Commonwealth, an initiative of the Commonwealth’s agency for civil society, awards unpublished fiction. The Caine, a charity set up in the name of the late literary organiser Sir Michael Caine, only accepts already published work. The cash reward that comes with winning these prizes is a major factor in their popularity on the continent.

But they are also significant in the growth of the short story genre. This is why I am interested in the partnerships that have emerged between prize bodies and writers’ organisations. Together they are influencing literary production structures from creative writing training to publishing and marketing texts.

Both the Caine and the Commonwealth prizes have partnered with African based writing organisations – like Uganda’s FEMRITE and Kenya’s Kwani? – to organise joint creative writing workshops.

The Caine holds annual workshops for its longlisted writers. These mostly take place in Africa, working with local writers’ organisations. Sometimes the resulting writing is entered into competitions and in this way, the prize body both produces and awards literary value.

Many of these writers’ organisations are headed by people who were canonised through the international prize, and sometimes the writing trainers and competition judges are also previous winners.

With such links it then becomes important to analyse the literary texts produced within these networks with the awareness of the importance of a text’s social, cultural and political context. The literary product becomes a reflection of the different systems of power at play.

Power at play

A good illustration of this power play can be found in best-selling Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short story Jumping Monkey Hill. It tells of a fictional creative writing programme for African writers run by the British Council. The story, set in South Africa, narrates the experiences of the writers, who are all expected to write about African realities in order to have their stories published internationally. The writers come to the workshop ready to learn how to improve their skills but encounter setbacks mainly because the trainer has a preconceived idea of what ‘plausible’ African stories should be. These writers have to understand the power play in place and then make a choice.

Jumping Monkey Hill acknowledges the role played by the creative writing institution in the production of literature as a commodity that must fit market demands. For this reason, the increasing investment of African based writers’ organisations in the literary production scene can also be understood as a political move. It is also an effort to influence the literature coming out of the continent and shape the canon.

An advert for a workshop run by writers’ organisation Short Story Day Africa.
SSDA

Why writers’ organisations matter

Contemporary African writers’ organisations are deliberately involved in canon formation by taking an active role in the production and distribution of literature. They understand that the uneven distribution of economic and cultural capital results in misrepresentations, or lack of representation, within the canon.

Writers’ organisations such as FEMRITE, Kwani?, Farafina, Writivism, Storymoja and Short Story Day Africa, among others, are active in the literary industry through publishing, creative writing programmes and providing access to major award organisations and international publishers.

They are, in the process, contributing to canon formation.

Short Story Day Africa, for instance, pegs its yearly competitions on the promise that the winning stories will be automatically submitted for the Caine Prize. In fact, the 2014 Caine winning story and one other shortlisted story were initially published in its anthology Feast, Famine and Potluck (2013).

In the African academy, creative writing is usually offered as a single course within a larger programme or is available only at selected universities. This has resulted in a market gap that has been quickly filled by writers’ organisations. They fill this gap by offering short term courses on various aspects of creative writing. This is in part because the local literary organisation possesses the cultural capital necessary to link writers to prize organisations and publishers, and therefore to global visibility.The Conversation

Doseline Kiguru, Postdoctoral research fellow, Rhodes University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.