Society of Authors’ Awards Shortlist 2018 features four African nationals. The four are Anietie Isong, Masande Ntshanga, Kayo Chingonyi, and Omar Robert Hamilton.
The Society of Authors’ Awards is the UK’s biggest literary prize fund celebrating poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Previous winners of the awards are Nadifa Mohamed, Noviolet Bulawayo, Helen Oyeyemi, Zadie Smith, and Hari Kunzru.
The awards on offer this year are The Betty Trask Prize and Awards presented for a first novel by a writer under 35, and The Somerset Maugham Awards for published works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by writers under 35, to enable them to enrich their work by gaining experience of foreign countries. Also on the cards are The Tom-Gallon Trust Award for a short story by a writer who has had at least one short story accepted for publication and The McKitterick Prize awarded to a first novel by a writer over 40.
The judges for the awards are Joanne Harris, Samantha Shannon, Frances Fyfield, Abir Mukherjee, Irenosen Okojie, Jen Campbell and Paul Bailey.
There were four Africans on the shortlists for this year’s awards. They are;
The McKitterick Prize.
Radio Sunrise by Anietie Isong (Jacaranda) – Frances Fyfield, McKitterick judge said: “A small volume, staying long in the imagination, with the huge backdrop of a young, utterly likeable Nigerian journalist trying to live a life and get ahead. Lovely, simple first-person narrative of youthful manhood, getting it wrong, getting it right, learning on the hoof. Makes the reader long to meet him, while engendering both hope and despair for the society he inhabits, all enlivened by humour. “
Somerset Maugham Awards.
Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi – poetry (Chatto & Windus) – Barney Norris, Somerset Maugham judge said: “This is a rich and sophisticated collection, full of wry insight and rewarding repeated readings. Chingonyi can write – but more excitingly and perhaps more rarely, he can think, and that’s the real delight of this book, his compelling intelligence.”
The Betty Trask Prize and Awards.
The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga (Jacaranda) – Samantha Shannon, Betty Trask judge said: “In The Reactive, Ntshanga shows us the gritty reality of Cape Town in 2003 through the smoky lens of the young and high – and deftly explores the complexities of friendship, identity, guilt, family and nihilism through his young narrator, Lindanathi, whose liminal existence is interrupted by a message from his past. An important and triumphant debut.”
The City Always Wins by Omar Robert Hamilton (Faber and Faber) – Joanne Harris, Betty Trask judge said about the book: “Tough, bleak and relentless, this is a challenging, thoughtprovoking, heart-wrenching and in many ways, necessary novel – we have all, after all, watched these events from the safety of our TV screens, but this glimpse into the reality of the events of 2011 is a wholly different, immersive – and ultimately rewarding – experience.”
The winners will be feted with a ceremony on Thursday July 19, 2018.