The James Currey Prize for Literature: The Shortlist

Five writers are in the running for the £1,000 prize money and a publication deal.
Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God, both from Heinemann's African Writers Series, edited by Achebe and published by James Currey. Credit: Brown Bag Books.

Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Arrow of God, both from Heinemann's African Writers Series, edited by Achebe and published by James Currey. Credit: Brown Bag Books.

The James Currey Prize for Literature: The Shortlist

The James Currey Prize for Literature is an annual award for the best unpublished work of fiction written in English by an African writer. It has announced the shortlist for the 2021 edition. Sarah Inyal-Lawal, the Chair of the Jury, announced it on July 1, 2021. 

Below are the five shortlisted authors, taken from a longlist of 10.

1. Title: “And Then He Sang A Lullaby” 

Author: Ani Kayode Somtochukwu

Ani Kayode Somtochukwu is a biologist, writer, and queer liberation activist who lives in Enugu, Nigeria. His work interrogates queer identity, resistance, and liberation; has appeared in Enkare Review, The Rustin Times, Gertrude, Bakwa, and Plenitude Magazine, among others; and has been shortlisted for the Erbacce Poetry Prize, the ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award, and the Toyin Falola Prize.

He is the host of Rainbow Marxism, a YouTube channel that focuses on queer liberation in Africa, and the founder of the Queer Union for Economic and Social Transformation (QUEST), a radical queer group organizing towards queer liberation in Nigeria. He was a finalist for the 2020 Prize for Difference and Diversity and was the recipient of the 2019 SOGIESC Rights Activist of the Year Award, presented by the Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs).

2. Title: “Bones & Runes”

Author: Stephen Embleton

Stephen Embleton was born and lives in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. His background is in graphic design, creative direction, and film. His first short story was published in 2015 in the Imagine Africa 500 speculative fiction anthology. More short fiction followed in the Beneath This Skin 2016 edition of Aké Review, The Short Story Is Dead, Long Live the Short Story! Vol. 2, the debut issue of Enkare Review, The Bloody Parchment, AfroSFv3, and The Kalahari Review.

He is a charter member of the African Speculative Fiction Society and its Nommo Awards initiative. He was featured in Part 11 of the “100 African Writers of SFF” on Strange Horizons. His debut speculative fiction novel, Soul Searching, was published in 2020.

3. Title: “The Rage of Lambs”

Author: Solomon Kobina Aremu

Solomon Kobina Aremu was born and raised in Ghana. After completing secondary school, he moved to Nigeria where he studied at the University of Ibadan, completing his BA-Philosophy in 1990.

He worked for Sketch Press Ltd, a group of newspapers at the forefront of the fight to restore democracy in Nigeria after the military dictatorship annulled the June 12, 1993 presidential election. With Sketch Press offices shut and guarded by heavily armed soldiers, its newspapers went underground, publishing from secret locations until it was no longer sustainable.

Solomon returned to Ghana and continued working as a print journalist and in public relations, managing the PR account of Guinness Ghana Breweries Ltd., before relocating to Toronto, Ontario, where he now resides with his wife of 20 years. 

4. Title: “A Reign of Terror”

Author: Ntando Gerald

A little over 35, Ntando Gerald was born and bred in Zimbabwe but currently resides in South Africa. A storyteller at heart, he is also a scriptwriter, ghost writer, and an aspiring lyricist. He earns his crust as a freelancer and researcher for television shows.

His previous self-published book is called Why I Don’t Believe in Love. In it, he shares his unpleasant relationship experiences, and those of people close to him. When Gerald is not writing, he’s busy in the kitchen putting his culinary skills to good use.

5. Title: “The Masses on Ashes”

Author: Okwudiri Job 

Bio not available. 

The winner of the £1,000 prize will be announced on September 3, 2021, at a party organized for James Currey’s 85th birthday celebration in Oxford. 

More details can be found on: www.jamescurreyprize.com.

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