Simone Haysom

Simone Haysom

The Miles Morland Foundation (MMF) has announced the winners of the 2014 Morland Writing Scholarships. The winners each receive a grant of ₤18,000 to allow them to take a year to write a book. The awards are based on submissions which include a book proposal and an excerpt of published writing.

While usually the MMF awards three scholarships every year to African writers selected by a panel of African judges this year they announced four scholars. The scholars and their suggested projects are;

  1. Simone Haysom (South Africa) – she published many short pieces of fiction and journalism. This will be her first book. Set in South Africa, it will be a work of non-fiction examining a possible miscarriage of justice following the death by “necklacing” of a suspected thief.
  2. Ahmed Khalifa (Egypt) – the 21 year old will write a novel, his first book, about three generations of Egyptians from the 1952 Revolution to the Arab Spring.
  3. Ndinda Kioko (Kenya) – is a writer and film-maker whose work has appeared in several literary magazines. Her novel will tell the story of a daughter’s quest to conjure up memories of her dead mother. She was also one the Africa 39 list and is one of the Jalada crew.
  4. Yewande Omotoso (Nigeria-Barbados) – Another Africa 39er, Omotoso published Bomboy, a widely acclaimed first novel in 2011. Her Scholarship book, like Ndinda’s, is a story of loss and a mother’s attempt to come to terms with the death of her daughter.

The two Reserve Scholars are:

  • Fiona Andia Kisia (Kenya) – I have seen her work in earlier editions of Kwani? the literary journal. Brilliant.
  • Elnathan John (Nigeria) – One of the best writers of satire I have ever read. Check out his blog here.

The Judges, as last year, were Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, Nadifa Mohamed the award-winning Somali novelist and Olufemi Terry from Sierra Leone, past winner of the Caine Prize.

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, chair of the judging panel, said: “It was encouraging to see the high standard and range of entries this year. My fellow judges and I considered the potential impact of the proposed books, along with the quality of the pieces of published work. We were looking for writers with original stories to tell and for those with distinct styles and a grasp of the chosen form. All four of the Scholars selected show incredible promise.”

Miles Morland, who sat in with Michela Wrong, the MMF’s Literary Director, as an observer at the judging said: “I was blown away by the quality of this year’s entries. Everyone in Africa seems to have a story to tell. Our four new Scholars are potentially world-class writers.”