Fabienne Kanor

Fabienne Kanor’s HUMUS (University of Virginia Press, 2020) is the winner of the Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize 2022. Véronique Tadjo and Tjawangwa Dema came second and third consecutively. The announcement was made on September 12, 2022.

The Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize is awarded by the Women’s Caucus of the African Studies Association for an outstanding book that prioritizes African women’s experiences. Named in honour of Ama Ata Aidoo, the celebrated Ghanaian novelist and short story writer, and Margaret Snyder, the founding Director of UNIFEM, this $500 prize seeks to acknowledge the excellence of contemporary scholarship being produced by women about African women. In alternate years, the prize is awarded for the best scholarly book, or for the best creative work.

Some previous winners of the award first handed out in 2005 include Jumoke Verissimo, Yvonne Vera, Aminatta Forna, Grace Bantebya-Kyomuhendo, Yaa Gyasi among others. Oluwakemi Balogun and Jacqueline-Bethel Tchouta Mougoué were joint winners in 2021.

The announcement of the winner was made thus;

“The 2022 Book Prize committee is happy to announce that we have selected Fabienne Kanor’s HUMUS (University of Virginia Press, 2020) as the winner of this year’s competition. This novel was chosen for its focus on women’s priorities, the trajectories taken by fourteen enslaved women. Kanor’s narrative revolves round her reading of Louis Mosnier, the captain of the slave ship, Le Soleil,’s logbook, dated 1774, where fourteen unnamed African women (whose bodies were objectified), jumped overboard to escape their enslavement. However, only six of them survived while the rest of them died from shark attacks and bites. The author’s usage of interconnected stories works quite well and provides a fast moving picture of the lives of the women from the time of their captivity, in Ghana, on the slave ship to Haiti and their subsequent lives.”

Born in France to Caribbean parents, Fabienne Kanor teaches French and Francophone Literature and Cinema. An award-winning writer and filmmaker, she has directed many movies (mostly documentaries) and published seven novels, including among others D’eaux Douces (2004), Humus (2006), and Je ne suis pas un homme qui pleure (2016). Set in Louisiana, her next novel tells the story of a Cameroonian man in search of his identity (2020).

Named by the French Minister of Culture “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres,” Kanor devotes her career to studying Race, Gender, and Migrations in France and Francophone Africa. She has translated Zora Neale Hurston’s book Barracoon, the Story of the Last “Black Cargo” (March 2019, Lattes), into French.

The Committee also recognised the work of two additional authors, Véronique Tadjo’s In the Company of Men (Other Press, 2021), as the 2022 First Runner Up and Tjawangwa Dema’s An/Other Pastoral (No Bindings Ltd., 2022), as the 2022 Second Runner Up.