The Morland Writing scholarships 2016 winners have been announced and they are Abdul Adan (Somalia), Ayesha Harruna Attah (Ghana), Lidudumalingani Mqombothi (South Africa), and Nneoma Ike-Njoku (Nigeria).
The Judges for this year were, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, the Chair, accompanied by Olufemi Terry and Muthoni Garland.
“We were especially concerned this year to choose scholars whose proposals promised books that had the potential to gain a wide, international readership,” said Ellah Allfrey on the new Scholars.
The three fiction winners each receive a grant of ₤18,000 to allow them to take a year off to write a book. Ayesha Harruna Attah won a non-fiction award of £27,000 to be paid over a year and a half to allow her additional time for research. The awards are based on submissions which include a book proposal and an excerpt of published writing.
Miles Morland commented, “Last year our winners were all female. This year the blokes have fought back and we have perfect gender balance. All four winners have the potential to write books that will command global attention. This year we had a record 500 submissions, up from 345 last year. The most heartening thing is the breadth of talent; we had submissions from over thirty countries of which 106 came from Nigeria, a bubbling cauldron of writing talent, 51 from South Africa, 42 from Kenya, 17 from Zimbabwe and 12 from Ghana.
Michela Wrong, the Foundation Literary Director, said, “Meanwhile our twelve existing Scholars from the last three years have been writing hard. Our hope is that in 2017 at least two of our existing Scholars will publish the books they have written on their Scholarship year with more to follow soon after. I will be surprised if we don’t get ten published books from our existing Scholars.”
In Ayesha Harruna Attah’s nonfiction proposal, Kola! From Caravans to Coca Cola we were immediately engaged by her confident prose and outline for a history of the prized kola nut from its West African origins, weaving together primary sources and travel.
For fiction, Abdul Adan’s surreal, dark humour will take us to Elwak, on Kenya’s Somali border (with pit stops in Missouri, Kazakhstan and Somalia) as his enigmatic protagonist infiltrates a group of Islamic extremists.
Nneoma Ike-Njoku delighted us with her highly original and boldly ambitious proposal for Drift a novel about a fictional Afro-Psych Rock band formed by college students in 1970s post-Civil War Lagos.
With studied assurance and a beguiling poetic restraint, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi’s Let Your Children Name Themselves will tell the intergenerational story of a family living in rural South Africa, with a focus on Babini – a gay adolescent struggling to come to terms with his sexuality and his place within his community.”