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

Jamaican author Marlon James has won the Man Booker Prize for his novel inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s. James was announced as the winner of the £50,000 prize in London on Tuesday.

Michael Wood, chair of the judges, described A Brief History of Seven Killings as the "most exciting" book on the shortlist.

The 680-page epic was "full of surprises" as well as being "very violent" and "full of swearing".

James is the first Jamaican author to win the Man Booker Prize. Receiving the award, he said a huge part of the novel had been inspired by reggae music.

"The reggae singers Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were the first to recognise that the voice coming out of our mouths was a legitimate voice for fiction and poetry."

He admitted it was "so surreal" to win and dedicated the award to his late father who had shaped his "literary sensibilities".

Set across three decades, the novel uses the true story of the attempt on the life of reggae star Marley to explore the turbulent world of Jamaican gangs and politics.

Wood said the judges had come to a unanimous decision in less than two hours.

He praised the book's "many voices" - it contains more than 75 characters - which "went from Jamaican slang to Biblical heights".

He said: "One of the pleasures of reading it is that you turn the page and you're not quite sure who the next narrator will be."

But he acknowledged that some of the content might be too much for some readers.

More judges comments: ‘This book is startling in its range of voices and registers, running from the patois of the street posse to The Book of Revelation. It is a representation of political times and places, from the CIA intervention in Jamaica to the early years of crack gangs in New York and Miami. ‘It is a crime novel that moves beyond the world of crime and takes us deep into a recent history we know far too little about. It moves at a terrific pace and will come to be seen as a classic of our times.’

In addition to his £50,000 prize and trophy, James also receives a designer bound edition of his book and a further £2,500 for being short-listed.

In subsequent interviews since his Booker win, James has said that he almost gave up on writing after his debut novel was rejected by publishers almost 80 times.


  • Short Story Prize logo

The Financial Times and Oppenheimer Funds yesterday announced the finalists for the new FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards competition in fiction, film and art. The finalists were chosen from July’s long-lists of 10 entrants in each category, who in turn were selected from more than 800 entries from 65 emerging-market countries.

Kenyan novelist Yvonne Owuor makes it to the Short-list.

"It was both a tremendous challenge and a great honor for our panels of judges to choose the finalists from among the exceptionally talented artists in the long-lists," said Michael Skapinker, associate editor of the Financial Times and chair of the judges. "The judges were thrilled by the originality and quality of the entries and are pleased to be sharing them with a global audience."

The awards will be presented at a gala ceremony on 5 October at the New York Public Library. Each winner will receive a $40,000 award.

"Identifying outstanding opportunities is a critical component of our Emerging Markets investment philosophy," said Justin Leverenz, CFA, Director of Emerging Market Equities at OppenheimerFunds and a member of the fiction and art panels of judges. "Showcasing this artistic talent is another key aspect of bringing the emerging-markets story onto the global stage, and it is professionally and personally gratifying to be part of that process."   

The independent panels made their determinations based on outstanding talent that exemplifies their art form and the voice of their region. To ensure that each major region would have its own area of focus, the competition was open to artists from emerging-market nations* in the following regions and categories: fiction from Africa and the Middle East; film from the Asia-Pacific region; and painting, drawing, sculpture, mixed media from Latin America and the Caribbean.

"As a global asset manager that has been investing in the emerging markets for decades, we are pleased that our collaboration with the FT creates a platform to share the inspiring work of these talented artists," said Art Steinmetz, Chairman, CEO and President of Oppenheimer Funds.

Fiction Finalists:

Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Granta Books, Kenya
Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga, Archipelago Books, Rwanda
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, Pushkin Press, Nigeria

Film Finalists:
Endless, Nameless by Mont Tesprateep, Thailand
Kush by Shubhashish Bhutiani, India
The Sea by Han Ting, China
Trespassed by Yuhang Ho, Malaysia

Art Finalists:
Vultures, Table of Negotiations, Mass Grave, Coloured Christ by Cristina Planas, Peru
Cabinet, Folios, Abandonment, Records by Fabiola Menchelli Tejeda, Mexico  
Balancing Light, Archway, Curved, Section Cut by Pablo Mora Ortega, Colombia  


Congratulations to all the finalists!



The long-list, or ‘Man Booker Dozen’, for the £50,000 Man Booker Prize was announced last week on Wednesday 29 July 2015.

This year’s long-list of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges chaired by Michael Wood, and comprising Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, John Burnside, Sam Leith and Frances Osborne. The judges considered 156 books for this year’s prize.

This is the second year that the prize, first awarded in 1969, has been open to writers of any nationality, writing originally in English and published in the UK.  Previously, the prize was open only to authors from the UK & Commonwealth, Republic of Ireland and Zimbabwe.

The 2015 long-list, or Man Booker ‘Dozen’, of 13 novels, is:

Author (nationality) - Title (imprint)

Bill Clegg (US) - Did You Ever Have a Family (Jonathan Cape)            

Anne Enright (Ireland) - The Green Road (Jonathan Cape)

Marlon James (Jamaica) - A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld Publications)

Laila Lalami (US) - The Moor's Account (Periscope, Garnet Publishing)

Tom McCarthy (UK) - Satin Island (Jonathan Cape)

Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) - The Fishermen (ONE, Pushkin Press)

Andrew O’Hagan (UK) - The Illuminations (Faber & Faber)

Marilynne Robinson (US) - Lila (Virago)            

Anuradha Roy (India) - Sleeping on Jupiter (MacLehose Press, Quercus)

Sunjeev Sahota (UK) - The Year of the Runaways (Picador)

Anna Smaill (New Zealand) - The Chimes (Sceptre)

Anne Tyler (US) - A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus)

Hanya Yanagihara (US) - A Little Life (Picador)

 Chair of the 2015 judges, Michael Wood, said, ‘We had a great time choosing this list. Discussions weren’t always peaceful, but they were always very friendly. We were lucky in our companions and the submissions were extraordinary. The longlist could have been twice as long, but we’re more than happy with our final choice. ‘The range of different performances and forms of these novels is amazing. All of them do something exciting with the language they have chosen to use.’

The judges were struck by the international spectrum of the novels, with the long-list featuring three British writers, five US writers and one apiece from the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, India, Nigeria and Jamaica. Marlon James, who currently lives in Minneapolis, is the first Jamaican-born author to be nominated for the prize. Laila Lalami, now based in Santa Monica but born in Rabat, is the first Moroccan-born.

One former winner, Anne Enright, is also long-listed. The Irish writer won the prize in 2007 with The Gathering. She is joined by two formerly shortlisted British writers: Tom McCarthy (2010, C) and Andrew O’Hagan (1999, Our Fathers, and longlisted for Be Near Me, 2006). US author Marilynne Robinson has been shortlisted for Man Booker International Prize twice, in 2011 and 2013.

There are three debut novelists on the list: Bill Clegg, Chigozie Obioma and Anna Smaill.

Four independent publishers are on the list, with Garnet Publishing and Pushkin Press appearing for the first time.

 The shortlist and winner announcements:

The shortlist of six books will be announced on Tuesday 15 September at a press conference at the London offices of Man Group, the prize’s sponsor.

The 2015 winner will then be announced on Tuesday 13 October in London’s Guildhall at a black-tie dinner that brings together the shortlisted authors and well-known figures from the literary world. The ceremony will be broadcast by the BBC.

 The leading prize for quality fiction in English

First awarded in 1969, the prize is recognized as the leading prize for high quality literary fiction written in English. Its list of winners features many of the literary giants of the last four decades: from Salman Rushdie to Hilary Mantel, Iris Murdoch to Ian McEwan.

The rules of the prize changed at the end of 2013, to embrace the English language ‘in all its vigour, its vitality, its versatility and its glory’, opening up to writers beyond the UK and Commonwealth. Salman Rushdie commented at the time: ‘I think it's a really great thing that finally we've got an English language prize that doesn't make a distinction for writers who are writing from a particular country.’ 

Earlier this month the Booker Prize Foundation also announced a change to the Man Booker International Prize, which has become an annual award celebrating fiction in translation.  The newly configured prize will focus on the finest in translated fiction published in the UK, and sees an increased annual prize purse of £52,000, which will be split equally between the winning author and translator.

 Winning the Man Booker Prize

The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner will receive a further £50,000 and can expect international recognition. Last year’s winning novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan, has sold 300,000 copies in the UK and almost 800,000 worldwide.

Following her second win in 2012, Hilary Mantel topped the UK Nielsen BookScan chart with the sales of Bring up the Bodies, her sequel to Wolf Hall which won in 2009. Sales of her winning novels together exceeded a million copies in their UK editions. The BBC’s television adaptation and the theatre adaptations by the Royal Shakespeare Company of both novels have been widely praised. Other winning novels have gone on to have second or third lives as stage and screen adaptations;  examples include Schindler’s Ark (directed by Steven Spielberg as Schindler’s List), The Remains of the Day and The English Patient.

 Congratulations to all long-listed authors.


Zambian author Namwali Serpell was last evening announced as the winner of the 2015 Caine Prize with her story ‘The Sack’

The announcement was made at the Bodeleian Libraries in Oxford, United Kingdom. Namwali Serpell won the prize of £10,000 for her story, beating 4 other writers on the short-list two of which are Nigerian Elnathan John and Segun Afolabi who had in previous years been short-listed, including Namwali herself.


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