Angolan author José Eduardo Agualusa is the winner of the Dublin International Literary Award 2017 for his novel A General Theory of Oblivion.
The Dublin International Literary Award, worth €100,000 to the winner, is the world’s most valuable annual literary award for a single work of fiction published in English. The award sponsored by Dublin City Council and managed by Dublin City Libraries was launched on 7th April 1995.
The longlist announced in November last year included six Africans; Mia Couto, Kamel Daoud, Yasmina Khadra, Chigozie Obioma, José Eduardo Agualusa, and Alaa Al Aswany. 10 novels shortlisted for the Dublin International Literary Award 2017 includes six novels in translation from Angola, Austria, Denmark/Norway, Mexico, Mozambique and Turkey, and novels from Nigeria, Vietnam and the USA.
The shortlist announced in April included two Africans in the running; Angolan José Eduardo Agualusa and Nigerian Chinelo Okparanta. Agualusa’s novel is A General Theory of Oblivion while Okparanta’s was Under the Udala Trees.
Agualusa now claims the prestigious €100,000 prize which he shares with his translator Daniel Hahn. This book was in the running for the Man Booker International last year missing out narrowly to Korean Sang Hang (we insist) on going home with those big bucks.
The book which has been getting so much of an amazing buzz for the writer is set in the eve of Angolan independence. In it, an agoraphobic woman named Ludo bricks herself into her apartment for 30 years, living off vegetables and the pigeons she lures in with diamonds, burning her furniture and books to stay alive and writing her story on the apartment’s walls.
In recent years, African writers like Scholastique Mukasonga, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Mahi Binebine, and Aminatta Forna and Noviolet Bulawayo have been in the running. This will be the second time however an African will be going home with the rich prize. Moroccan Tahar Ben Jelloun first won the prize in 2004 for his book This Blinding Absence of Light. That masterpiece was translated by Linda Coverdale. Jelloun who writes primarily in French has since gone on to be short-listed for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Our congratulations to Angola’s leading writer for this well-deserved win.