Helon Habila’s ‘Travelers’ Shortlisted For James Tait Black Memorial Prize

by Yinka Akanbi

Nigerian author and poet, Helon Habila, has been shortlisted for this year’s edition of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel, ‘Travellers’.

Habila’s ‘Travelers’ made the shortlist for the fiction category alongside Irish novelist, Edna O’brien (Girl), a story inspired by the Chibok girls; Lucy Ellmann (Ducks); Newburryport and Sarah Hall for Sudden Traveller.

“At our trying hour of staying home, these four dazzling works of fiction supply nourishing forms of travel – around the world, across perilous borders, and into the thoughts of compelling characters whose personal and political emergencies demand our attention,” said fiction judge, Benjamin Bateman.

The James Tait Black Prize is presented in two categories: fiction and biography. The award, which is one of the UK’s oldest literary prizes, is annually presented by the University of Edinburgh in memory of James Tait Black at his wife’s bequest.

Entries for the prize are screened by postgraduate students at the university under the supervision of two academic judges, providing recommendations from which the eventual shortlist is selected from. Winners in each category receive a cash prize of £10,000.

Nigeria’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won the prize for her novel, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, in 2007.

The winners of both prizes will be announced in August at a virtual Edinburgh International Book Festival. The online event celebrating the eight titles will be part of the festival’s virtual program.

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