Jumoke Verissimo’s debut novel A Small Silence is on the shortlist of the Royal Society of London’s Ondaatje Prize 2020 announced on April 20, 2020.

The Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize is an annual award of £10,000 for a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, best evoking the spirit of a place. The prize is sponsored by Sir Christopher Ondaatje and has been running for the last fifteen years. Previous winners have been Aida Edemariam (2019), Pascale Petit (2018), Francis Spufford (2017), Peter Pomerantsev (2016), and Justin Marozzi (2015). Africans who have been in the running, but never won the award, include Aminatta Forna, Emmanuel Iduma, and Jamal Mahjoub.

Those who are in the running for this year’s award have been announced by this year’s judges Peter Frankopan (Chair), Pascale Petit and Evie Wyld and they include Jumoke Verissimo’s novel A Small Silence. The full shortlist is;

  • Jay Bernard, Surge(Chatto & Windus)
  • Tishani Doshi, Small Days and Nights (Bloomsbury Circus)
  • Robert Macfarlane, Underland (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Roger Robinson, A Portable Paradise (Peepal Tree Press)
  • Elif Shafak, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)
  • Jumoke Verissimo, A Small Silence (Cassava Republic)

The winner will be announced on Monday, May 4.