The 2023 James Currey Prize for African Literature: Meet the Finalists

The 2023 James Currey Prize for African Literature’s panel of judges has unveiled the shortlist of five standout finalists, carefully chosen from the initial selection of 11 entries, which were initially revealed on August 10, 2023.

Henry Akubuiro, the head of the seven-member jury, released a statement without ranking, presenting the following shortlist:

  1. “Bolga by Bus” by A.G. Agambila (Ghana)
  2. “Akala” by William Ifeanyi Moore (Nigeria)
  3. “Legend of a Beach House” by Peter Ngila Njeri (Kenya)
  4. “Black Fractures in Exile” by Limpho Sechele (South Africa)
  5. “A Dangerous Job for a Woman” by Patricia Brickhill (Zimbabwe)

“The winner of the 2023 James Currey Prize for African Literature will be announced during the African Literature Festival, scheduled to take place in Oxford, UK, from September 1 to 3, 2023,” said Akubuiro, a journalist-writer who is joined by Nneoma Otuegbe, Tatiana Cassiano, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, Javier Gutierrez Lozano, Debbie Edwards, and Masande Ntshanga as fellow jurors.

Providing insights into the themes of the finalists’ works, the jury elaborated:

– “Bolga by Bus” by A.G. Agambila transports readers on an exhilarating journey from Tema in Ghana’s Greater Accra Region to Bolga in Northern Ghana, through the eyes of a perceptive teenager named Musah. The narrative is characterised by vivid descriptions, historical undertones, and a hint of culinary culture. It delves into themes of self-discovery, cultural immersion, and human trafficking in contemporary Africa.

– “Akala” by William Ifeanyi Moore presents a surrealistic fiction imbued with allusions and rooted in the historical interactions between the West and Africa. Set in a culturally vibrant pre-colonial Nigerian society, the story explores a well-established justice system, codes of conduct, and social norms. Against the backdrop of a devastating war, the narrative delves into tragic destinies and liminal spaces, while employing unique idiomatic expressions.

– “Legend of a Beach House” by Peter Ngila Njeri weaves a haunting tale with a non-linear plot and futuristic elements. Using the Beach House as a metaphor for human complexities and self-discovery, the narrative touches on deception, religiosity, and the divide between sinners and the virtuous. By reexamining life’s mysteries, the story offers profound insights into the blurred boundaries of human experience.

– “Black Fractures in Exile” by Limpho Sechele offers a captivating exploration of unrequited love and the lingering agony of heartbreak. The narrative delves into youthful exuberance and the consequences of recklessness, as well as the intricate dynamics of human emotions and catharsis.

– “A Dangerous Job for a Woman” by Patricia Brickhill serves up a detective story with a delightful blend of humour and social commentary. Following a female ZRP detective’s pursuit of a potential crime, the story takes readers across Zimbabwe and into Mozambique, building towards an engaging climax.

The James Currey Prize for African Literature is sponsored by the James Currey Society based in Oxford, UK, founded by Nigerian filmmaker and writer, Onyeka Nwelue.

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date