The scholars selected for the Morland Writing Scholarships 2019 was announced on November 22, 2019.
The Morland Writing Scholarships for African Writers, popularly referred to as the Morland Writing Scholarship, is an opportunity to allow writers to finish a manuscript. Scholars writing fiction receive a grant of £18,000, paid monthly over twelve months while those writing non-fiction may receive a grant of up to £27,000, paid over a period of up to eighteen months. In the past, the scholarship has been accorded to writers like Simone Haysom, Yewande Omotoso, Noo Saro-Wiwa, Akwaeke Emezi, Karen Jennings, Ayesha Harruna Attah, and Elnathan John.
Those announced for one of the most respected manuscript prizes on African writing were selected from the record 700 entries and their proposals are;
Gloria Mwaniga Odari (Kenya) – Following an act of religious cult extremism, a displaced rural girl comes of age in Where the Bougainvillea Blossoms, an intimate portrayal of family that explores the themes of patriarchal and cultural control of women bodies and lives.
Hawa Jande Golakai (Liberia) – Speculative fiction of soaring imagination featuring a tightly controlled underwater city of glass in a future mecca for black people in West Africa. Inspired by Liberia, the ebola virus and pending environmental disaster, the proposed novel, Spectral is a terrifying examination of the tensions between freedom and social order.
Nnamdi Oguike (Nigeria) – Set in South Africa and Nigeria, Toy Shop is a funny and tender exploration of the bonds of love in a family tested by xenophobic violence and complicated multicultural family ties.
Parsalelo ole Kantai (Kenya) – Parselelo will write an important and urgent exploration of the unprecedented nexus of revolutionary intellectuals and artists from multiple African countries, identities and periods that coalesced in Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam in the Revolutionary Age is potentially a zeitgeist work of non-fiction of great historical significance, centred in Africa but set in a global context.”
The winners each receive a grant of ₤18,000 to allow them to take a year off to write a book. The awards are based on submissions which include a book proposal and an excerpt of published writing.
Miles Morland commented, “This year’s winners are a brilliant group. I’m happy that all four are living in Africa, not the diaspora, and will be writing books about Africa. Their books have challenging themes very much in tune with the current world. We had a new panel of judges this year with Muthoni Garland stepping up to be the Chair, and being joined by Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, and Otosirieze Obi-Young. Every one of the shortlist of twenty was discussed in depth before they made their decision. We are lucky to have three judges who are so closely in touch with African writing.”
Muthoni Garland who is the chair of the panel of judges said; “The winners of the 2019 Scholarships impressed us with their ambitious and confident exploration of some key themes troubling and shaping our continent. Varied in approach and style, they include a grand social history, a futuristic epic, an immigrant story, and a nuanced family portrait. What they promise in common is persuasive storytelling, coherent world-building, and insightful characters.