Fayssal Bensalah

Fayssal Bensalah has been announced the Toyin Fálọlá Prize 2020 winner at Ake Festival 2020 today, October 25, 2020.

The Toyin Fálọlá Prize is a new award from Nigerian-based Lunaris aimed at honouring distinguished African scholar and foremost historian, Prof Toyin Fálọlá, whose contributions to the field of African history and culture have continued to place Africa on the map and accord it its deserved recognition. The prize honours his endeavours and contributions to the advancement of African cultures, peoples, myths, and histories.

The call-out for the new prize was made in November last year with young African writers invited to reach to the core of Africa to make, remake, affirm, and re-affirm the African (hi)story creatively. The texts sent in were judged by Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Adunni Abimbola Adelakun and in September, the longlist of twenty four short stories was announced. The shortlist of eight stories was made public on October 13.

The winner announced today by Tolulope Oke, the publisher of Lunaris Review and the co-facilitator of the Toyin Falola Prize, is The Last Shot of Ahmed Bey’ Cannon by Algerian writer Fayssal Bensalah.

While making the statement on the winning of the award, Tolulope Oke said,

“Of the final three stories we had to consider for the winner, two were in competition for the prize. They showed great understanding of character development and how to work with and move plot in unexpected ways. They also revealed a practiced hand at crafting lean, concise, and sparkling sentences, as well as impressive use of dialogue. However, what the “The Last Shot” had going for it that stood it above it competition is that element that you can’t define: the whao factor. It was the story that showed the most promise; that stayed with the readers and judges the most; and that simply left you amazed and guessing at its twists and turns. It was unpredictable, deeply historical without trying to be, and it had the capacity to wrestle your thoughts for attention long after you have read it.  Like one of the readers said, what a cannon ball of a story.”

Fayssal Bensalah gets the $1,000 cash prize and a fully-funded travel trip to attend the BIGSAS Festival of African and African-Diasporic Literature in Bayreuth, Germany.