Meet 10 Nigerian writers shortlisted for the 2019 Brittle Paper Awards

Writers Ope Adedeji and Frances Ogamba are two of the 10 Nigerians shortlisted for the 2019 Brittle Paper Awards (Writivism/AfricainDialogue/BeFunky)
  • Brittle Paper Awards has been announced the shortlist for this year.
  • The 25-name shortlist was revealed on Tuesday, November 19, 2019.
  • It features writers from South Africa, Kenya and a total of 10 names from Nigeria.

Nigerian writers Ope Adedeji, Frances Ogamba, Pemi Aguda, Ojo Taiye, Wale Ayinla, Kemi Alabi, Oris Aigbokhaevbolo, Ukamaka Olisakwe, Ebenezer Agu, and Tope Owolabi have all been shortlisted for the Brittle Paper Awards. 

According to the organisers, the shortlisted writers were chosen based on “the quality, significance, and impact of a work, in addition to the work’s aesthetics and formal innovation. We paid attention to works that inspired readers to rethink their assumptions about African writing."

The statement added, “All have kindled important conversations and debates or have identified and built on areas still under-explored. Together, these 25 shortlisted pieces reflect the state of contemporary African literary culture.”

For the first time since the prestigious awards were established back in 2017, the shortlist was revealed via video by notable individuals of the literary world.

Here is the full list of this year’s shortlist:


  • “After the Birds,” by Ope Adedeji (Nigeria)
  • “Happy City Hotel,” by Adam El Shalakany (Egypt)
  • “Ghana Boy,” by Frances Ogamba (Nigeria)
  • “Monkeys,” by Keletso Mopai (South Africa)
  • “24, Alhaji Williams Street,” by Pemi Aguda (Nigeria)


  • “Surveillance Camera,” by Ojo Taiye (Nigeria)
  • “Penance,” by Jamila Osman (Somalia)
  • “In Praise of a Night of Perdition,” by Wale Ayinla (Nigeria)
  • “Reincarnation,” by Afua Ansong (Ghana & USA)
  • “Theory of Plate Tectonics,” by Kemi Alabi (Nigeria)

Essays and Think Pieces

  • “On Black Difficulty: Toni Morrison and the Thrill of Imperiousness,” by Namwali Serpell (Zambia)
  • “Why I’m No Longer Talking to Nigerians About Race,” by Panashe Chigumadzi (South Africa & Zimbabwe)
  • “Writing Like Degas Paints,” by Sulaiman Adonnia (Eritrea)
  • “Trauma and a Victim Complex in Nigerian Writing,” by Oris Aigbokhaevbolo (Nigeria)
  • “Writing About the Forgotten Black Women of the Italo-Ethiopian War,” by Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia)

Creative Nonfiction

  • “After Three Children, Reclaiming My Body and My Mind,” by Ukamaka Olisakwe (Nigeria)
  • “Excellent Baddie Territory,” by Simone Haysom (South Africa)
  • “A Triangle of Time and Aging,” by Ebenezer Agu (Nigeria)
  • “The Smell of Oxford,” by Tope Owolabi (Nigeria)

Anniversary Award

  • “Songbird,” by Innocent Acan Immaculate (Uganda)
  • “Negritude Is Omnipresent in African Writing: On Its Birth, Rebellion, & Disappearance,” by D.S. Battistoli (USA)
  • “The Kenyan Literary Hustle,” by Carey Baraka (Kenya)
  • “Language, Trauma, & Identity Politics in Contemporary African Poetry,” by Cheswayo Mphanza (Zambia) & Nkateko Masinga (South Africa)
  • “Who Is More Left Than the Other? Growing McCarthyism and Fatima Bhutto’s Unfair Criticism of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,” by Tee Ngugi (Kenya)

The $1,100 cash prize will be split across the five categories once the winners are announced in early December 2019.


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