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Awards, Awards, Awards!

January 30, 2014

Awards are on my brain, they give me sleepless nights, oh dear!

I’ve managed to be on the receiving and giving ends of shortlists for awards at the same time. It turns out this is not for the fainthearted.

Not so long ago I thought one of my books being shortlisted for a mayor award would be heaven but it transpired that there is no heaven on earth and things crop up.

So on a boring Wednesday in January I was watching twitter like a hawk, I knew an announcement was imminent, and yes there it was: one new tweet! This one announced that Finding Soutbek by Karen Jennings had progressed to the shortlist of the very first Pan-African literature prize for debut novels, the Etisalat Literature Prize.

The surprisingly all female shortlist features Booker shortlisted NoVioler Bulawayo (We Need New Names) and not one but two Cape Town based authors Yewande Omotoso (Bom Boy) and our own discovery Karen Jennings with Finding Soutbek.

Here’s a snippet of interesting information: as happens to most successful authors Finding Soutbek got a few rejections, ‘give it a happy ending,’ was the general verdict. We took it on because we liked that it didn’t have a happy ending, it’s essential to the story. And actually in the end there may be a happy ending after all. Isn’t life wonderful!

Finding Soutbek

So how for the giving angle? Well, the shortlist of English and Dutch poets and poems has just been announced. I’m very excited about the nominated poems, it great to discover new treasures. I love them all, and I’m very glad we have two wonderful expert judges, Norbert Hirschhorn and Donald Gardner, who pick the winners.

And if this is not enough, Arnold Jansen op de Haar has a poem among the 100 best poems in the Turing Poetry Contest. Dutch readers attention: they are available as a print publication in all good Dutch bookshop unless they are ‘temporarily’ closed.

The Etisalat Literature Prize winner will be announced at a grand award event in Lagos Nigeria on 23 February. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

So, too, will our nominated poets. I hope you can come along to cheer on new talent, in a friendly but exciting awards ceremony in Great Western Studios.

But first up is the Turing Poetry Contest: the winning poem will be announced at the end of Dutch National Poetry Week on 5 February.
It’s been a very exciting start of 2014, and I haven’t even told you about an exciting new cover for a very special publication. That’s something for the next blog.