CANEX Book Factory unveils judges for inaugural CANEX Prize for Publishing in Africa

The literary world received a significant boost on Friday as the CANEX Book Factory announced its distinguished panel of judges for the highly anticipated inaugural CANEX Prize for Publishing in Africa. 

This announcement, according to a statement, marks a pivotal moment for African literature, promising to highlight and reward excellence in publishing across the continent.

Leading the panel is the esteemed Dr. Wale Okediran, an author and influential figure in African literary circles. Dr. Okediran, who serves as the Secretary-General of the Pan African Writers’ Association (PAWA), brings a wealth of experience and expertise. His illustrious career includes the publication of 14 novels, several of which are integral to the curriculum in Nigerian universities. Notably, his novel Tenants of the House was adapted into a film featured on Netflix, demonstrating his significant impact on both literature and media. As a co-founder of the Ebedi International Writers Residency, the first in Nigeria, and Deputy Secretary-General for the Union of Writers from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, Dr. Okediran’s leadership in this inaugural prize is highly anticipated.

Joining Dr. Okediran on the panel is Edwige-Renée Dro, an Ivorian writer, literary translator, and activist. Dro’s contributions to literary arts are profound, with her short stories and essays widely anthologized. Her commitment to linguistic justice and exploration of African English and French variations have distinguished her in the literary community. She has previously served on notable juries, including the Caine Prize for African Writing and the PEN International Short Story Prize. Her founding of “1949: the library of women’s writings from Africa and the black world” in Abidjan highlights her dedication to promoting African literature.

The third judge, Ashraf Aboul-Yazid, known as Ashraf Dali, is an Egyptian poet, novelist and journalist with over 30 years in cultural journalism. Aboul-Yazid’s impressive oeuvre includes around 40 authored and translated books, spanning multiple languages such as Korean, Turkish, Persian and English. His accolades, including the Manhae Prize in Literature and the Arab Journalism Award in Culture, underscore his influential role in literature. As President of the Asia Journalist Association and a founding member of the Congress of African Journalists, Aboul-Yazid’s extensive experience will greatly benefit the judging process.

The CANEX Prize for Publishing in Africa aims to celebrate and promote excellence in African publishing. The judges will reveal a longlist of ten publishers in August, followed by a shortlist of five in September. The winner, to be announced at the CANEX WKND in Algiers this October, will receive a grand prize of USD20,000, while the remaining finalists will each receive USD2,000.

This prize is part of the broader CANEX Book Factory initiative, an annual program by the Creative Africa Nexus initiative of Afreximbank, designed to elevate the African book value chain. This year’s program, culminating in the Award Ceremony at CANEX WKND from October 16-19, promises to be a landmark event for African literature.


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