Yamen Manai’s novel Bel Abîme was declared the winner of Prix Orange du Livre en Afrique 2022 at a ceremony in Dakar, Senegal on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
Prix Orange du Livre en Afrique (Orange Book Prize in Africa) was set up to reward a fiction text written in French by an African writer from a publishing house based on the continent in 2018. It is organised by the African Cultural Agency alongside the Orange Foundation, the French Institute, UNESCO, OIF, AFD, and DHL. Previous winners have been Djaïli Amadou Amal and Youssouf Amine Elalamy.
The 12-person judging panel for 2022 chaired by author and academic Veronique Tadjo included Kidi Bebey, Yvan Amar, Yahia Belaskri, Mamadou Camara, Eugène Ébodé, Prudentienne Houngnibo Gbaguidi, Nicolas Michel, Gabriel Mwènè Okoundji, Nétonon Noël Ndjékéry, Ariane Poissonnier, and Loubna Serraj. On March 10 the panel, from the sixty applications from some forty publishing houses in Africa, revealed the finalists to be;
- Colorant Félix, Destin Akpo (Bénin), Savanes du Continent editions, Benin
- Bel Abîme, Yamen Manai (Tunisia), Elyzad, Tunisia
- Le Silence des Horizons, Beyrouk (Mauritanie), Elyzad editions, Tunisia
- Le Livre d’Elias, Chab (Mali), La Sahelian editions, Mali
- Le prix du cinquième Jour, Kaoula Hasni (Tunisie), Arabesques, Tunisia
- Maguia ou le Prix de la Liberté, Lorance (Cameroun), La jeune plume, Cameroon
The winner was announced at a ceremony in Dakar last night with Yamen Manai going home with the literary honour. In his novel published in 2021 by Elyzad editions in Tunisia, Yamen Manaï, a graduate of a telecommunications school in Paris, tells a story of friendship between a young man and a dog named Bella. A story with a political element, but which remains “very human”, according to the president of the jury. The jury hailed “a story of great strength sticking to the essentials of the word.”
Yamen Manai who won the prize on the second attempt said, “I am very happy to be rewarded in Africa, in Senegal. Literature brings me back to my continent and to a country that I dreamed of visiting, and I am happy that literature makes me discover it physically. Because I knew him through literature and through friends I meet in France.”
He receives the cash prize of more than six million CFA francs, or ten thousand euros.