Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kwani? Manuscript Project: New Literary Prize for African Writing

For at least 60 years the African novel has deconstructed, and even transversed, ideas and imaginaries of self, culture, society and nation across the continent. A self-reflexive continuum, shifting chameleon-like; a receptacle of letters, morphing through the cry of the griot, everyman's diatribe, madman's claim of truth or the politician's manic address. An oracle.

It is the precursor to many contemporary urban African genres and forms. From the ubiquitous FM station, the graffiti of rage, the new painter's electronic brush, the characters of transnational cable T.V. and the growing fan-tribes of European soccer. The African novel determined Us, created an autonomy of expression and became the said curse of dictators.

To celebrate the African novel and its adaptability and resilience, Kwani Trust announces a one-off new literary prize for African writing. The Kwani? Manuscript Project calls for the submission of unpublished fiction manuscripts from African writers across the continent and in the Diaspora.

Beyond the foundations laid by Soyinka, Ngugi and Mahfouz, in remembrance of Yambo Ouologuen's pre-colonial quest and Mariam Ba's bending of form, to the urban journeys of Meja Mwangi, the precocious post-everything of Kojo Laing and the musical rhythms of Ahmadou Khrouma. This prize seeks to recognize the possibilities of form in an ongoing genre that has re-emerged in the work of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Alain Mabanckou, The Kwani? Manuscript Project is a conversation, an ill guised attempt at growing its own list. For there is no greater celebration of emergent forms than in publishing our own, thanks to those who have existed before us and helped us believe. We look forward to your submissions

  • 1st Prize: 300,000 KShs
  • 2nd Prize: 150,000 KShs
  • 3rd Prize: 75,000 KShs

In addition Kwani? will publish manuscripts from across the shortlist and longlist, including the three winning manuscripts, as well as partnering with regional and global agents and publishing houses to create high profile international publication opportunities.

Deadline: 20 August 2012

Winners will be announced in December 2012 at the Kwani? Litfest.

  • Word count: 60,000-120,000 words
  • Submissions should be adult literary or genre fiction (in the sense of not being 'children's fiction')
  • The work should be in English or 'Englishes'
  • The manuscript must be new in the sense that it is unpublished in book form (we will accept previously published submissions if circulation has been under 500 copies and limited to one national territory)
  • Eligible participants should have at least one parent born in an African country who holds citizenship of the same

  • Name of author (Times New Roman, 12. Bold left justified)
  • Contact address, telephone number and email (Times New Roman, 12. Bold left justified)
  • Title of manuscript (Times New Roman 14. Bold, centered)
  • The manuscript should be in Times New Roman, black, size 12, justified, 1.5 line spacing
  • Page numbers and name of author on every page please
  • Word count at the end of the manuscript, bold and left justified
  • Please also include a cover letter providing an overview and synopsis of the manuscript, and a brief author biography.

For inquiries:

For submissions: send submissions by email, attached as a WORD document to