URGENT Call for submissions: Africa39

Dear Friends, Writers, publishers and African Literary organisations,

My name is Binyavanga Wainaina. I am the coordinator of the Africa39 Longlist.

I write to you with some urgency. I have recently been contracted to put together a long-list of 120 of most promising fiction authors under the age of 40 from Africa South of the Sahara and diaspora.

This is a huge undertaking and will lead to an announcement of 39 of the most promising African writers under the age of 40 in April 2014. Time is of the essence.

I have to submit this longlist by the 15th of December 2013. I would like to encourage all published fiction writers who qualify to apply.

As many of you may have heard, Port Harcourt City in Rivers State, Nigeria has been conferred the status of UNESCO World Book Capital in 2014. It is the first African city south of the Sahara to be given such status.

The Port Harcourt Book Fair (PHBF) is an initiative of the Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria and is an event for writers, book sellers, literary connoisseurs and all major players in the book industry.

The PHBF in 2014 with Port Harcourt as the World Book Capital City will therefore be a major pan-African and international literary event which will significantly advance the state of literacy, literature, and publishing in Africa.

I am asking you please to distribute this application document to your contacts, mailing lists, writers, media, and other relevant networks and forums.

PLEASE refer all replies & queries ONLY to:  africa39project@gmail.com 

All updates will be posted on twitter @africa39list and you are advised to check regularly.

The details in this document may be modified slightly and you are advised to refer to this document before submitting your work.

What is Africa39 Project?

The Africa39 Project has been set up as a key part of the programs and celebrations of Port Harcourt UNESCO World Book Capital 2014.  In April 2014, Africa39 will announce 39 of the most promising African writers of fiction under the age of 40.

The Africa39 Project is a partnership between the Hay Festival of Literature & the Arts Ltd., UK; and the Rainbow Book Club (Port Harcourt, Nigeria).

The Africa39 Project will contact and liaise with African literary prizes, writers groups, literary magazines, and literary festivals.

I understand this is coming to you at short notice. As you imagine this undertaking is huge, and I have only recently become involved in this project. This is a huge opportunity for a new generation of writers, and I urge you to encourage as many as possible to submit an application consideration.

Important Note: The Spirit of the Africa39 Project

Africa39 seeks to produce a possible snapshot of our shared African future.

We have entered into this long-list making project with an openness to non-traditional ideas on what is “a published writer”, and are therefore open, even in this short time, to discover adventurous young Africans who will redefine our literary ecosystem in the future.

This process is guaranteed to be flawed as such processes always are.

At least 50% of the final long-list will be women writers. If, as we suspect, the percentage of the number of women in the list is 65%, then we will have reason to celebrate.

We cannot ignore the fact that we live in a continent where sexual and other minorities are most often not free to express their imaginations.

This long-list seeks to imagine the best possible and most diverse literary ecosystem and we shall not be afraid to be inclusive and provocative where such necessities arise.

Some countries have a recent vibrant writing culture in African languages. The long-list panel is committed to reserving a minimum of 25 places in the long-list for writers under 40 who have written fiction in any African language.

Writers of children’s fiction, prose fiction blogs, erotica writers, romance—the wild, weird, explorers of the imagination, are all encouraged to participate. Whatever your broadest idea of prose fiction is, you will be considered. If you are not sure, simply apply.

We are keen to engage with writers who write under pseudonyms and do so for issues of their own safety and creative freedom. If you are a fiction writer at risk for any of these reasons, please contact africa39project@gmail.com with the subject line “At risk”.

If you publish anonymously, you are still encouraged to submit your work though we will need to know your identity.

We are willing to create an infrastructure to assess any writing done in Braille.

We are keen to promote work that highlights the full diversity and complexity of our continent.


Rules for Applicants.

Application Criteria