Johny Pitts’ Afropeans, Notes from Black Europe was announced the winner of the European Essay Prize on May 20, 2021.
The European Essay Award is intended to highlight the primary importance of the literary genre of the essay for a society that relies on dialogue and the confrontation of ideas to inform its choices for the future. Awarded by the Charles Veillon Foundation and endowed with a sum of CHF 20,000, theprize illustrates an intention to promote to the widest possible readership literary works that foster understanding between peoples and unity through the bonds of the spirit. Some previous winners of the award first handed out in 1975 are Alessandro Baricco, Siri Hustvedt, and Jean-Claude Mathieu.
The winner of the award for 2021 was revealed to be Johny Pitts. Pitts is a writer, photographer and journalist. He has worked in television as a writer and presenter for MTV, Sky One, ITV, Channel 4, Discovery Channel and currently for the BBC. He founded the online magazine Afropean.com, which explores the social, cultural and aesthetic interactions of black and European cultures. He was born and raised in Sheffield, UK and currently lives in Marseille.
Afropeans is his essay on the concept of Afropeanity, invented in the 1990s in the artistic milieu, which Johny Pitts proposes to extend to the political and social domains. To do so, he conducted fieldwork on Europeans of African descent who deal with their multiple identities. Everything starts from a personal concern: the author was born in a mixed family, with a European mother and an African-American musician father, and his personal experience will remain present throughout the book.
Johny Pitts, who won the Jhalak Prize and the Leipzig Book Prize for the same work in 2020, will receive his award in a ceremony featuring public lectures and debates on June 2, 2021.