Mubanga Kalimamukwento was announced the winner of the Kalemba Short Story Prize 2019 for her short story Inswa on June 17, 2019.
The Kalemba Short Story Prize funded and administered by publishing company Ukusefya WORDS is awarded to the best work of original and unpublished short fiction written in English by a Zambian. The award in its second year, worth US$1,000, was first won by screenplay and short story writer Mali Kambandu.
The 2019 edition of the prize kicked off in October last year with a call out for entries from Zambian writers. For those who made submissions, it was announced that their entries would be judged by Kayo Chingoyi, Austin Kaluba, Mulenga Kapwepwe and Ainehi Edoro who took the role of chair. The longlist for the prize was announced on April 5 with 32 writers making the cut followed by a shortlist of six on May 2.
Narrated in the first person, the award-winning story Inswa is a coming of age story of a teen protagonist initiated into sexual awakening by her best friend, Wongani, while being pushed into premature adulthood by her parents. Edoro praised the story as resonant and gripping, “the author’s exploration of desire is nuanced, the prose is precise, but evocative. The writer captures the intensity and range of emotions that make such intimacies feel true and valid even in worlds where they are perceived as transgressive.”
Speaking about her writing influences Kalimamukwento said, “I’ve always been an avid reader of mostly African Literature, and my work is informed greatly by what I absorb. I especially love Ellen Banda-Aaku, NoViolet Bulawayo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Kopano Matlwa, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Panashe Chigumadzi, and Tsitsi Dangarembga.”