Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi has made the US National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” 2018 honour list for the novel Freshwater. The announcement was made on September 24, 2018.

The National Book Foundation, best known for its National Book Awards, announces some of the best young writers in the United States with its “5 Under 35” awards. Nominees are chosen by previous National Book Award winners, finalists and longlisted authors, or writers previously recognized by the 5 Under 35 program. There is no nomination process, and no one has any idea who is being considered for the award.

The 5 Under 35 2018 honourees were announced by five judges including Colson Whitehead on September 24. The list of writers is “a selection of debut fiction writers under the age of 35 whose work promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape,” according to the National Book Foundation.

The honorees were chosen because of their handling of “issues of race, cultural identity, loyalty, displacement and more,” according to the organisation’s press release.

On the list of five is Akwaeke Emezi for their debut novel Freshwater. This will not be the first honour for the Nigerian who was the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2017 winner for the Africa region.

The honorees will be celebrated at an invitation-only ceremony on November 12. They will also receive a $1,000 prize.