Irenosen Okojie and Remy Ngamije

Irenosen Okojie at Afrolit Sans Frontières Season 4.

Irenosen Okojie kicked off the third day of Season 4 of Afrolit Sans Frontières from London, UK on July 1, 2020. She was hosted by Rémy Ngamije.

Afrolit Sans Frontières, a virtual literary festival for writers of African origin, started as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic international lockdowns. The festival format is two sessions a day on Instagram Live with an artist moderated by a host who also fields questions from audience members. Season 1, curated by founder Zukiswa Wanner ran from March 23-30 while Season 2 co-curated by the founder and Maaza Mengiste ran from April 20-27, 2020. Season 3, co-curated by Mohale Mashigo and Zukiswa Wanner, ran from May 25 – June 1.

Season 4 has so far seen Ngwatilo Mawiyoo in Nairobi, Kenya, Hannibal Tabu in Los Angeles, USA, Lamelle Shaw in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún in Lagos, Nigeria.

Day three of the festival started off with Caine Prize 2020 shortlistee Irenosen Okojie whose work has been featured in The New York Times, The Observer, The Guardian, the BBC, and The Huffington Post amongst other publications. Her short stories have been published internationally. Her debut novel, Butterfly Fish, published by Jacaranda Books won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Edinburgh First Book Award. Her short story collection, Speak Gigantular was shortlisted for the Edgehill Short Story Prize, the Jhalak Prize, the Saboteur Awards, and nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. It was selected by film director Carol Morley as an Observer Summer Read. Her short story collection Nudibranch was selected as one of the best books of the year in the Guardian and Observer Review by Bernardine Evaristo and Diana Evans.

Irenosen Okojie, an engaging warm guest, was guided through her session by her host and fellow Caine Prize shortlistee Rémy Ngamije. The Namibian host was interestingly enough fully made up with a doek head wrap possibly celebrating his literary magazine Doek! (check it out here) publishing an issue earlier in the day.

For the next hour, and almost half as there was a few minutes added on due to technical issues, we learned a lot about the Nigerian-born writer. She gave advice on getting one’s work into literary journals by referencing her submitting and being accepted by less famous journals like Kwani? which embraced her work. She also spoke about how writing routine mixed in with her other income-generating hustles that feeds the writing. She was also quite passionate about the need for spaces for writers of African origin to come together and share experiences like the Ake Festival and Afrolit Sans Frontières festival.

You can watch both Caine Prize shortlistees chatting below.

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