Graywolf Press is pleased to announce that the submission period for the fourth Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize will run from February 1-28, 2023. The prize will be awarded for a first novel by an African author primarily residing in Africa and will be judged by Tsitsi Dangarembga, author of the Booker Prize short-listed This Mournable Body and the forthcoming Black and Female, in conjunction with the Graywolf editors.
Graywolf Press, a nonprofit American publisher, publishes work that is distinctive, artistically singular, and of a high literary quality. For this prize, the judge and the Graywolf editors are seeking novels that are engaged with the current moment and that approach contemporary issues with innovative prose and fresh perspectives.
Submissions must be full-length, previously unpublished first novels, or first novels published in Africa that have not been distributed or available for sale outside of the continent of Africa. The winning manuscript will receive a $12,000 advance and publication by Graywolf Press.
Previous winners of the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize include The House of Rust (October 2021) by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber, who was featured in Open Country Mag‘s The Next Generation issue, and If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English (April 2022) by Noor Naga, both of which were selected by prize judge A. Igoni Barrett, author of Blackass and Love Is Power, or Something Like That. The House of Rust won the inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction and If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English won the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
“The Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize has changed my life in astonishing ways,” Khadija Abdalla Bajaber says, speaking to the experience of being the inaugural prize winner. “The road to publication is steep, and The House of Rust is the kind of book that could not have had a conventional journey to publication, as it presents a world that readers might not have encountered elsewhere. But Graywolf Press believed in the book, and they propelled this story into places that it might not have otherwise been able to go, taking it to such ambitious spaces that it feels audacious for a first novel. I’ve been guided and supported throughout, making the experience of publishing my first book feel far less overwhelming. Every success the book has had is as much about the dedicated work done by the press as it is the quality of the story itself.”
Speaking about her experience of winning the prize, Noor Naga says, “I couldn’t have imagined how transformative winning such a prize would be for my work or career. I am grateful for this arm tendered across the Atlantic, from Minneapolis to Cairo. In today’s increasingly conservative publishing climate, I believe such initiatives to be necessary for our literary health and cannot wait to hear the daring new voices from the continent that this prize will amplify in years to come.”
Tsitsi Dangarembga is the author of This Mournable Body, short-listed for the Booker Prize, and two previous novels including Nervous Conditions, winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. She is also a filmmaker, playwright, and the director and founder of the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa Trust. She lives in Harare, Zimbabwe.
We will be accepting submissions through our page on Submittable at www.graywolfpress.submittable.com.