Five Nigerians including Toni Kan, Eromo Egbejule and Nnamdi Oguike are among the 20 African writers that have been shortlisted for the 2019 Morland Writing Scholarships.
The fellowship administered by The Miles Morland Foundation allows writers of fiction and non-fiction to complete an English-language book with a grant of £18,000, paid monthly for 12 months.
Olalekan Olanrewaju and Adeola Salau are the two other shortlisted Nigerians who will be jostling to make the final cut in a field also featuring South African, Ghanaian, Kenyan, Liberian, Zimbabwean and a Motswana (Botswana) writer.
The two Ghanaian writers are Elinam Agbo and Cheryl Ntumy, while Siyanda Mohutsiwa is from Botswana.
There are also Kenyans, Cherrie Kandie, Parselelo Kantai, Irene Ndiritu and Gloria Odari. Hawa Jande Golakai is from Liberia while Farai Mudzingwa represents Zimbabwe.
The six South Africans on the shortlist are Zainub Dala, Dela Gwala, Mishka Hoosen, Fred Khumalo, Lindokuhle Nkosi and Tsholofelo Wesi.
A statement from The Miles Morland Foundation disclosed that nearly 700 entries were received this year, 150 more than last 2018 with the standard going up alongside the numbers.
“It’s always a difficult task choosing the shortlist, but this year was particularly challenging. Although the list is decided on a combination of literary merit and the book proposal, we also, when deciding between submissions of equal merit, try to favour writers at an early stage in their careers over established writers. We are delighted established writers apply and we have given many scholarships to them but for them, the bar is set a little higher,” the Foundation said.
Commenting, Miles Morland said: “What a talented group of people on this year’s shortlist. I’m glad I don’t have to choose who gets the Scholarships. As I said last year, I can’t think of anywhere else in the world that could produce a shortlist with such energy and originality. My only disappointment is that I’d like to see more of the humour and wit for which countries like Nigeria are famous but apart from that the shortlist has everything, an astonishing variety.”
The judges comprising Kenyan writer and a founder of Storymoja, Muthoni Garland (chair); co-founder of Cassava Republic Press, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper, Otosirieze Obi-Young will meet on November 21 to select the 2019 Scholars. Their names will be announced shortly afterwards.