Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor is on the shortlist for the Arthur C Clark award 2016 for her novel The Book of Phoenix.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award is the most prestigious award for science fiction in Britain for a book first published in the United Kingdom. The award, established with a generous grant given by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, was first awarded in 1987 to Margaret Atwood for her model The Handmaid’s Tale. A previous African winner of the award was Lauren Beukes in 2011 for her book Zoo City.

This year’s shortlist of six novels was selected from a list of 113 individual submissions by 41 different publishing houses and imprints by judges David Gullen (British Science Fiction Association), Ian Whates (British Science Fiction Association), Liz Bourke (Science Fiction Foundation), Andrew McKie (Science Fiction Foundation) and Leila Abu El Hawa, (SCI-FI-LONDON film festival). The full list of those on the shortlisted include;

  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet– Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Europe at Midnight– Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
  • The Book of Phoenix– Nnedi Okorafor (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Arcadia– Iain Pears (Faber & Faber)
  • Way Down Dark– J.P. Smythe (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Children of Time– Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor)

Nnedi’s book The Book of Phoenix is a prequel to the highly acclaimed novel, Who Fears Death which was awarded the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, as well as the 2010 Carl Brandon Kindred Award for an outstanding work of speculative fiction dealing with race and ethnicity.

In this book, Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York s Tower 7. She is an accelerated woman only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult whose abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.

Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7 s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape. That’s a plot you wanna read.

Speaking about the award, Andrew M. Butler the non-voting chair of the Judges Dr Andrew M. Butler praised the judges, “Our thirtieth award seemed especially difficult to bring down to a shortlist this year, from one of the highest submissions levels we’ve ever received. It was toughly argued, in a good-humoured way, and as ever I’m blown away by the hard work of our judges.”

The winner will be announced on Wednesday 24th August at a celebratory award ceremony held in partnership with Foyles, Charing Cross Road. The winner will be presented with a cheque for £2016.00 and the award itself, a commemorative engraved bookend.