Elshadai Tesfaye is the winner of the Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature All-Stars 2017. The announcement was made at a ceremony at the Southern Sun, May Fair Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya on September 29, 2017.
In early September, the shortlist for the new Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature All Stars was announced. The prize included five contending titles from a pool of twenty-two books that had won first prize in previous national Burt Award competitions in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania since 2009. The winners of first edition of this new prize was announced at a ceremony in Nairobi as a part of the Nairobi International Book Fair 2017 activities.
The winners of this year’s edition Elshadai received a cash prize of $10,000 CAD, while her publisher, CODE-Ethiopia received a guaranteed purchase of 12,000 copies and a $2,000 CAD grant to promote the title.
“Elshadai Tesfaye demonstrates an excellent writing skill by taking a blind girl ‘from a state of hopelessness’ making her a confident self-reliant young lady. The underlying message of the story is clear and it is revealed through the plot: how the young girl evolves is a clear indication that perseverance and commitment are coping strategies that can be used in all the various struggles young people go through,” commented Mrs. Matilda Amissah-Arthur, Chair of the five-member international jury.
The All-Star honour book prize went to The Step-Monster by Ruby Yayra Goka (Ghana). Ruby received a cash prize of $2,000 CAD, and her publisher, Digibooks Ghana Ltd receives a guaranteed purchase of 12,000 copies and a grant of $2,000 CAD to promote the title.
Mrs. Amissah-Arthur described The Step-Monster as “… an action-packed book that will keep readers on their toes wanting to read to the end because they will want to know what happens to the stepmother. The story is well structured and the plot unfolds beautifully through the various actions. Ruby Yayra Goka takes us through the journey of a young girl who has lost her mother, is grieving, and will not have her father marry another woman. Character building is excellently handled as the grieving girl develops and matures by the end of the story.”
The local prize of the Burt Award would be awarded to poet and writer Adipo Sidang for his book A Boy Named Koko and got Kshs82,000 for his efforts. He should be in the running the next year’s All Stars.