The Miles Morland Foundation has just announced the winners of Morland Writing Scholarships for 2015. The winners each receive a grant of ₤18,000 to allow them to take a year to write a book. This year for the first time there are two non-fiction awards of £27,000 to be paid over a year and a half to allow the scholars time for research. The awards are based on submissions which include a book proposal and an excerpt of published writing.
The winners selected by judges Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, the Chair, accompanied by Olufemi Terry and Muthoni Garland are:
- Fatin Abbas, Sudan (Non-fiction) – her work will weave together personal narrative and an examination of contemporary Sudanese identity with an account of her country’s history of slavery.
- Noo Saro-Wiwa, Nigeria, (Non-fiction) – her book will focus on the lives of Africans who have chosen to live in China. It will shed light on relations between the Africans in this diaspora and the Chinese.
- Akwaeke Emezi, Nigeria (Fiction) – Emezi plans a novel The Death of Vivek Oji in which a mixed race couple mourn the loss of their adult child – found murdered in the market place. What begins as a tale of loss becomes an investigation of sexuality, gender identity and intolerance.
- Karen Jennings, South Africa, (Fiction) – Fiction Jennings’ novel The Harbour’s Breast is a story of a lighthouse keeper on an island off the coast of an unnamed African country whose solitary life is changed by the arrival first of an injured man seeking refuge and then the body of a murdered woman that washes up on shore. Jennings was shortlisted for the Etisalat Prize for African Literature in 2013.
- Bolaji Odofin, Nigeria, (Fiction) – Odofin’s proposed novel Ye Gods is one in which the deities of Nigeria find themselves invaded by a new pantheon and mortals find themselves the pawns in a fight for their souls.
Michela Wrong, the Foundation’s Literary Director commented: “Women writers began emerging as an unstoppable force a year ago but this year it was a rout. All five scholarships have gone to women, despite the fact that overall there were more male than female applicants. Women dominated both the long list sent to readers and the shortlist that went to the judges. Of the twenty-one writers on the short list nineteen were women.”
Miles Morland, a man, said, “This shows that women are the superior gender but we knew that already, didn’t we?”
Michela continued, “Overall, the Foundation received 345 applications, down from 2014’s 482. The overall number has dropped, but we felt that individual applications were of a higher quality, suggesting that prospective writers now have a better grasp of what the scholarship offers and entails. Many writers are making second attempts, a development we encourage.
“The applications came from across the continent, 23 African countries in all, with Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya dominating as usual. The Judges gave three Scholarships to Nigerians, all very different writers. We were impressed by the explosion of literary energy coming from West Africa. We know there is also a wealth of creativity and talent in East Africa and hope that next year that will be reflected in the Scholarships.”