2021 and 2022 have been great years for African writing. This year’s key literary prizes have gone to African and diaspora writers.
- The 2021 International Booker Prize: David Diop (Senegal)
At Night All Blood Is Black (French: Frère d’âme, lit. ‘Soul brother’), a novel by French-Senegalese writer and academic David Diop, translated from French by Anna Moschovakis, won the International Booker Prize 2021. The book centres on Alfa Ndiaye, a Senegalese Tirailleur who loses his close friend Mademba Diop while fighting in World War I.
Diop in the ASCL library collection
2. The Nobel Prize in Literature 2021: Abdulrazak Gurnah (Tanzania)
The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2021 was awarded to the Tanzanian-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.” Gurnah’s work includes the novels Paradise, By the Sea, and, most recently, Afterlives.
For more information on Abdulrazak Gurnah and his work, see the ASCL Library Weekly with an introduction by Annachiara Raia.
Gurnah in the ASCL library collection
3. Prix Goncourt: Mohamed Mbougar Sarr (Senegal)
La plus secrète mémoire des hommes (lit. ‘The Most Secret Memory of Men’), a novel by Senegalese writer Mohamed Mbougar Sarr received the French Prix Goncourt on 3 November 2021. The novel tells the story of a young Senegalese writer living in Paris who discovers a 1938 novel by the fictional African author TC Elimane, nicknamed ‘the Black Rimbaud’. The story mirrors the life of Malian writer Yambo Ouologuem, who won the Prix Renaudot in 1968, but was later accused of plagiarism, left France, and disappeared from public life.
Sarr in the ASCL library collection
4. The 2021 Booker Prize: Damon Galgut (South Africa)
The Promise, a 2021 novel by South African novelist Damon Galgut was awarded the 2021 Booker Prize. The Promise is a family saga spanning four decades, each of which features a death in the family. It concerns the Afrikaner Swarts family and their farm located outside Pretoria. The titular promise in the novel is Rachel Swart’s dying wish, in 1986, that their Black domestic servant, Salome, be given ownership of a house on the family’s property.
Galgut in the ASCL library collection
5. Prémio Camões 2021: Paulina Chiziane (Mozambique)
Paulina Chiziane was awarded the 2021 Camões Prize for literature awarded to writers from Portuguese-speaking countries. The jury unanimously decided to award the Prize to the Mozambican writer, highlighting her vast production and critical reception, as well as the academic and institutional recognition of her work. The jury also referred to the importance she attaches in her books to the problems of Mozambican and African women.
Chiziane in the ASCL library collection
6. The IAAAS African Literature Award 2021: Modou Lamin Age-Almusaf Sowe (The Gambia)
Modou Lamin Age-Almusaf Sowe was awarded the 2021 African Literature Award awarded to writers from African-speaking countries. The International Association of African Authors and Scholars (IAAAS) based in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, unanimously decided to award the Prize to the Gambian writer, highlighting his vast production and critical reception, as well as the academic and institutional recognition of his work. The jury also referred to the importance he attaches to the development of African literature and to the problems of Gambian and African women in his famous book, Don’t Judge The Book by The Cover.
Source: The African Studies Centre Leiden is an interfaculty institute of Leiden University, Posted on 22 November 2021, last modified on 29 November 2022