Graywolf African Fiction Prize Announcement of No Award

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After careful consideration in coordination with prize judge A. Igoni Barrett, we have decided not to award the African Fiction Prize this year. We were impressed with the quality and range of the submitted manuscripts, but we didn’t feel any were exactly right for our press or the prize. We thank all of the writers who submitted their work, and we’re grateful to all the organizations who helped us get the word out.

We’re also deeply indebted to the editorial insights and unerring instincts of A. Igoni Barrett, who judged the prize for three rounds from 2017-2022 and was instrumental in its inception. Here are some words from him:

“As previously agreed with Graywolf, this was to be my third and final time as the judge of the Graywolf Press Africa Fiction Prize. I’d been looking forward to continuing the winning streak that we all—writers, readers, the publisher—have enjoyed with this pioneering manuscript prize. Our first two winners, Khadija Abdalla Bajaber and Noor Naga, are now debut novelists whose voices have transcended any continental confines. Writers again responded in strong numbers to our submission call, and the Graywolf Press editors fulfilled their commitment to read every manuscript and compile a shortlist. But, after much thought, we took the narrow road by not awarding the prize this year. Our disappointment is nothing in comparison to the hopes of every writer who sent their work to us, for which we are grateful. This prize, despite any good intentions, would not succeed without your courageous and continuing participation. It has been my pleasure and pride, for all three editions of the prize, to read some of the most vital voices coming out of Africa. The prize will return with a new judge next time, and I look forward to reading, as a bystander and devotee, whatever new books emerge from this continent where the past, present, and future are stories still being written.”

We look forward to our next reading period in February 2023. We anticipate making some adjustments to the prize guidelines, but first novels and translations of first novels will continue to be eligible, and it will remain focused on African authors. Please keep an eye on our website for more details closer to that time.

In the meantime, please join us in celebrating the books that won the first two African Fiction Prizes, both now available for purchase: The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber and If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English by Noor Naga. We couldn’t be prouder to have published them.