Author, Researcher, Peace & Conflict Professional


  • 2016/2017 apexart New York City (NYC) Fellow
  • 2014 Winner Burt Award for African Literature, Kenya Chapter
  • 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing nominee
  • Ist Prize, Adult Fiction Category – NBDCK  Literary Awards, September 2008 Book Week


jonathan telThe Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2016

Jonathan Tell

Last night Petina Gappah missed winning the EFG Short Story Award but the winner Jonathan Tel was truly deserving!  The winner was announced at a gala dinner hosted by EFG at Stationers' Hall in London. Tel becomes the first British writer to win the £30,000.00 Sunday Times Award with his story ‘The Human Phonograph’.  Tel's winning story centres on a marriage lived in the shadow of the Chinese nuclear weapons programme of the 1960s. He was previously shortlisted in 2014 for his story, 'The Shoe King of Shanghai' and also won the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.


'The Human Phonograph' is set in the mysterious Factory 221 in Qinghai and examines the relationship between a husband and wife who have not seen each other for seven years.


Judge and best-selling author, Rose Tremain said:  ‘‘The hesitant relationship between a husband and wife who barely know each other forms the basis of this troubling, well-wrought story, set on a Chinese nuclear base in the 1960s and 70s. But it is the image taken from the title - of a man who, in a silent, punitive and desolate world, can remember the old songs and sing them perfectly every time - that elevates it to something truly memorable. The decision to award the prize to this work was unanimous among the judges and we all feel that Jonathan Tel has a bright future as a fiction writer’.’


Andrew Holgate, judge and literary editor of the Sunday Times commented: "Jonathan Tel’s winning story is a remarkable and very moving feat of storytelling and it’s all the more remarkable when you consider the huge number of entries we had this year – over 800, a record for the prize."

Tel’s published books include a story collection about Israelis and Palestinians, Arafat’s Elephant (Counterpoint), which was short-listed for the PEN/Hemingway Award, a novel, Freud’s Alphabet (Simon & Schuster), and The Beijing of Possibilities (Other Press), a story sequence that unfolds in contemporary China, which was short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers Award.


Apart from Gappah winner of the Guardian First Book Award and who was recently on the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction long-list and, Tel fended off stiff competition from American Edith Pearlman, author of over 250 works of short fiction, Irish writer Colum McCann the Man Booker long-listed author of Transatlantic, American writer Alix Christie and Canadian novelist Nicholas Ruddock. As winner, Jonathan Tel will receive £30,000 and the other five short-listed writers will each receive £1,000.00


Image result for mumbi ngugi photosJ

Justice Mumbi Ngugi

Yesterday bloggers and freedom of expression in Kenya scored a major victory! A controversial section in the Kenya Information and Communications Act (KICA) which creates the offense of “misuse of a licensed telecommunication device,” was declared unlawful and unconstitutional by High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi on 19 Tuesday 2016. She declared Section 29 of the said Act as unconstitutional saying it was too broad, vague and that it violated certain provisions of the constitution.

This Act has of late and in the past several months seen bloggers suffer arbitrary arrests, terrorised and detained on flimsy charges. The law makes it an offense to use any licensed telecommunication system such as a computer or cell phone to send a message or other matter that is grossly offensive.

Section 29(b) says ‘’A person who by means of a licensed telecommunications system sends a message that he knows to be false for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another person, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand shillings, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to both’’

In her ruling Justice Ngugi said that, The provisions of section 29 are so vague, broad and uncertain that individuals do not know the parameters within which their communication falls, and the provisions therefore offend against the rule requiring certainty in legislation that creates criminal offences.”


Pulitzer Gold Medal

The Pulitzer Prize winners were announced yesterday at the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners  and produced a pleasant surprise in the fiction category.

The Pulitzer Prize awards excellence in the Arts and Journalism. The Prizes and Fellowships established in Columbia University by the will of the first Joseph Pulitzer, are awarded by the University on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board.

2015's best artistic and non-fiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The prize money is US$ 10,000.00 for each winner across the 21 categories.

The major prize for book enthusiasts, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press). A wonderful surprise as this is Viet Nguyen’s debut novel. The Sympathizer is about a man struggling between two opposing minds. Set in 1975 Saigon, the novel follows a South Vietnam army captain who struggles to reconcile his political beliefs with his personal relationships. 


This year the Sylt Foundation is collaborating with the Goethe Institut in offering the African Literary Writer's Residency Award.


The Sylt Foundation is calling for writers of contemporary African literature to apply for the two months African Writer´s Award, offered as part of the Sylt Foundation Residency Programme. 

The African Writer´s Residency is awarded anually and offers an Award of a two months residency to writers of African literature, whose work engages with contemporary themes related to Africa and the African diaspora. The Award is open to published and not self-published writers of poetry, prose, plays and novels by an African writer, whether in Africa or elsewhere, published in the English language or translated into the English language.


Chigozie Obioma

Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma’s debut novel The Fishermen has yet again bagged another prestigious award! This time around it is the Los Angeles Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction.

In their 36th year, the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are awarded in nine categories: biography, current interest, fiction, first fiction, history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science and technology, and young adult fiction. The Book Prize program was founded by Art Seidenbaum, a Los Angeles Times book editor from 1978 to 1985. An award named for him was added a year after his death in 1990. Works are eligible during the year of their first US publication in English, and may be written originally in languages other than English. The author of each winning book and the Kirsch Award recipient receives a citation and $1,000. The prizes are presented the day before the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.


In addition, the Robert Kirsch Award is presented annually to a living author with a substantial connection to the American West, whose contribution to American letters deserves special recognition. It is named in honour of Robert Kirsch, the Los Angeles Times book critic from 1952 until his death in 1980.


Other African authors who have won the Art Seidenbaum Award previously include Ethiopian-American novelist Dinaw Mengestu, who won in 2007 for The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears: Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala, who won in 2005 for Beasts of No Nation recently adapted into a movie by the same title starring Idris Elba:  and the late Mark Behr, who won in 1996 for The Smell of Apples. Most recently, Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo won for her novel We Need New Names.



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The Shark Attack

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