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

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Blessed International Women’s Day to all! It’s highly befitting that the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction has been announced today as we celebrate and honour women.

Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah is on a roll having recently been named on the EFG Short Story Prize long-list, and she is today on the Baileys long-list for her debut novel The Book of Memory.


 Writer’s from six countries and across four continents, make up the 12-strong long-list for the £30,000 2016 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.

Now in its seventh year, the award  ‘’Has a reputation for showcasing established and emerging writers’’. The organisers have said. The prize prides itself on its “global scope”, and as well as Zimbabwe, this year’s long-list includes authors from Canada, India, Republic of Ireland, the United States and the UK. Despite being UK-based, no British writer has yet won the prize. The Sunday Times Short Story Award is also the world’s richest prize for a single short story. 


Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah has been long-listed for the prize. This is the second time Gappah has been up for the award; in 2010 the title story of her debut collection, An Elegy for Easterly, was long-listed, the eventual winner that year was New Zealand author CK Stead. In 2014 Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go, was long-listed for her story “Driver”.

Each of the five short-listed writers will receive £1 000. The short-list will be announced on 20 March, and the winner will be announced at a gala dinner in London on Friday, 22 April.


2016 IPAF Shortlist

Tareq BakariRabai al-MadhounMohamed RabieMahmoud Shukair,Shahla Ujayli and George Yaraq were on Tuesday 9 February, this past week announced as the six authors shortlisted for the 2016 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) – usually referred to as the ‘’Arabic Booker’’. The shortlisted names were revealed by a judging panel chaired by Emirati poet and academic Amina Thiban at a press conference hosted by The Cultural Club in Muscat, Oman.


The International Prize for Arabic Fiction is an annual literary prize for prose fiction in Arabic. It is run with the support of the Booker Prize Foundation in London and funded by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) in the UAE.

The winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2016 will be announced at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 26 April 2016, the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. The six shortlisted finalists will receive $10,000, with a further $50,000 going to the winner.

The full 2016 shortlist, with author names in alphabetical order, is as follows:







Country of origin






Tareq Bakari




Dar al-Adab


Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba


Rabai al-Madhoun




Maktabat Kul Shee 





Mohamed Rabie




Dar Tanweer, Lebanon


Praise for the Women of the Family


Mahmoud Shukair




Hachette Antoine


A Sky Close to Our House


Shahla Ujayli




Difaf Publications


The Guard of the Dead


George Yaraq




Difaf Publications

More from the prize website below:


This year's six novels are wide-ranging in subject matter, setting and style. They include: the story of a Moroccan intellectual searching for identity through a series of relationships (Numedia); a pioneering novel, written in four parts – each representing a concerto movement – on the subject of Palestinian life both in occupation and exile (Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba); a dystopian imagining of “the counter revolution" in Egypt, set in a nightmarish future where the police battle against a mysterious occupying power (Mercury); the story of the Al-Abd al-Lat tribe, former Bedouins whose women play a vital role in integrating the family into urban Palestinian society during the 1950s (Praise for the Women of the Family); memories of Syria’s past and times of tolerance and simple pleasures from the viewpoint of a Syrian woman now living in exile in Amman after her town, Raqqa, is occupied by ISIS (A Sky Close to Our House) and, finally, a new perspective on the Lebanese Civil War through the eyes of a hospital undertaker, whose former life as a mercenary puts his life in danger (The Guard of the Dead).


One previously shortlisted author, Rabai al-Madhoun, makes the list. His novelThe Lady of Tel Aviv was shortlisted in 2010 and has been translated into English by Telegram Books. One debut novel, Numedia, also makes the list.


Two of the shortlisted authors have participated in the IPAF nadwa, Mohamed Rabie in 2012 and Shahla Ujayli in 2014. Ujayli worked on what is now the fifth chapter of her shortlisted book, A Sky Close to Our House, during the workshop and credits the experience with helping her move forward with the novel.


The 2016 judges are: Amina Thiban (Chair), an Emirati poet and academic specialising in literature;Sayyed Mahmoud, an Egyptian journalist and poet, who is currently editor of Al-Qahira newspaper; Mohammed Mechbal, a Moroccan academic and critic; Munir Mujić, a Bosnian academic, translator and researcher and Abdo Wazen, a Lebanese poet, critic and editor-in-chief of the cultural pages of Al-Hayat newspaper.

The novels selected were chosen from 159 entries from 18 countries, all published within the last 12 months.

Amina Thiban, Chair, comments on the shortlist: “The process of choosing the shortlist was a pleasure and a challenge in equal measure. This year’s list features a number of experimental works, which try out new ground as they explore the experiences of the individual and the larger concerns of the Arab world, from personal issues to social, political and historical ones. The shortlisted novels are characterised by their innovative narrative forms and styles, which both question the heritage of the Arabic novel and address the tragedy of the present day Middle East.”

This is the ninth year of the Prize, which is recognised as the leading prize for literary fiction in the Arab world.

Professor Yasir Suleiman CBE, Chair of the Board of Trustees, added: “This is a strong list, one that reflects the energy of the Arab literary scene as it marches forward to reach an ever-expanding readership. Through their subjects, well-crafted characters and technical ingenuity, these novels transcend their local sources to reach distant shores where the human spirit is the ultimate champion.”

IPAF will take place in further activity in Oman in late February, when 2013 winner Saud Alsanousi will take part in the Muscat International Book Fair and an event with students at Sultan Qaboos University.

Delivering on its aim to increase the international reach of Arabic fiction, the Prize has guaranteed English translations for all of its winners. Raja Alem’s novel, The Dove’s Necklace (Duckworth), will be published on 2 June this year and Saud Alsanousi’s The Bamboo Stalk (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing) was published in 2015. Other winners translated into English include Bahaa Taher’sSunset Oasis (Sceptre), Youssef Ziedan’s Azazeel (Atlantic Books) and Abdo Khal’s Throwing Sparks and Mohammed Achaari’s The Arch and the Butterfly(both Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation). 2014 IPAF winner Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi has also secured English publication with Oneworld in the UK and Penguin Books in the US.


Congratulations to all the short-listed writers!

The inaugural Kenya shillings 1 million Kiswahili Prize Tuzo ya Fasihi ya Ubunifu (Prize for Creative Kiswahili Literature) was awarded on December 16, 2015 at the Alliance Francaise in Nairobi. This is the richest literary prize in East Africa.

The prize is a collaboration between the French Embassy, Spotlight Publishers and the Nation Media Group, through its online publication, Swahili Hub. 

Over 150 entries were submitted for the prize. The 15 short-listed writers included 14 men and only 1 woman.

The three top shortlisted manuscripts were ‘Shamba la Halaiki’, a play by Daniel Oduor Okello; ‘Dau la Mnyonge’, a novella by Silvester Ochieng’ Oduya and the winner was ‘Nyota Njema Mawinguni’, a novel, by Amos Nandasaba Kundu. Amos is a teacher of Kiswahili and history at Our Lady of Mercy Chebukaka school. The winning novel will also be translated into French and published in France. Nation Media Group undertook to promote the three wining books when published. 

Speaking at the ceremony, the French Ambassador to Kenya, Remi Marechaux, said the French Embassy was interested in supporting efforts that promote culture. He emphasized that Kiswahili is not only an ancient language but also a language of communication, trade and cultural production not only in the East African countries but other parts of the world. This, he reiterated, is why Kiswahili is now taught in several institutions of learning globally.

Mr Marechaux expressed hope that this latest award will promote literature that bridges the gap that exists between the so-called Kiswahili sanifu (highbrow Swahili fiction) and popular literature in Kiswahili, which should allow ordinary citizens to read literature in Kiswahili, even in matatus.

He highlighted the role played by the Alliance Francaise, which in 2015 was involved in 217 cultural events that involved activities promoting Kenyan and French cultures.

On his part, Tom Mshindi, the Nation Media Group’s Editor-in-Chief, noted that the group will support the prize as an annual event to support budding and upcoming young writers. Nation Media Group, Mshindi said, noted the significance of Kiswahili as a national language, a language of bringing Kenyans together and the importance of Kiswahili in promoting a reading culture.

Mshindi noted that Nation Media Group is working with institutions, including universities in the rest of the world, to promote research in and use of Kiswahili. This, he said, is why Nation hosts Swahili Hub, which not only hosts newspapers but is active in provoking debate on emergent issues in Kiswahili in the country and regionally.

Simon Sossion, the managing director of Spotlight Publishers, pointed out that the intention of the prize is to encourage young writers to compete with established names, especially considering that prospective writers have tended to accuse publishers of only considering the works of established writers. He emphasized that this prize will pay more attention to the creativity of submitted manuscripts rather than the name of the author. Spotlight, Sossion said, would publish the top three ranked manuscripts in 2016.

Also, the other shortlisted manuscripts will be considered for publication by Spotlight publishers if deemed good enough.

The judging panel was headed by Kimani Njogu, a renowned literary and Kiswahili scholar. Also in the panel were Prof Sheila Rianga, Dr Richard Wafula, Prof Natalie Caree, Dr Ken Walibora and Hezekiel Gikambi who was also the secretary of the jury.

The committee noted that there are good creative writers, as reflected in the competence of the entries which looked at gender issues, leadership, history, corruption, discrimination, and education. Njogu noted that several writers boldly dealt with subjects that tend to be seen as taboo in Kenya.

The judges, however, decried the very few entries from women writers.



Exciting news! All five slots of this year's Morland Writing Scholarships have been won by five talented women writers!


Winners each receive a grant of ₤18,000 to allow them to take a year to write a book. The foundation said this year for the first time they gave in addition two non-fiction awards of £27,000 to be paid over a year and a half to allow the scholars time for research. The awards are based on submissions which include a book proposal and an excerpt of published writing.


The lucky winners are:


  • Fatin Abbas, Sudan (Non-fiction)

  • Akwaeke Emezi, Nigeria (Fiction)

  • Karen Jennings, South Africa, (Fiction)

  • Bolaji Odofin, Nigeria, (Fiction)

  • Noo Saro-Wiwa, Nigeria, (Non-fiction)


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Shifting Sands

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The Shark Attack

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