2 African writers in the running for the first American book prize

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Two African-born writers are on the long list for the Center for Fiction’s 2022 First Novel Prize.

The writers are Noor Naga from Egypt and Eloghosa Osunde from Nigeria.

While Naga was on the long list for his “If an Egyptian Can’t Speak English”, Osunde is on the long list for “Wanderers!”.

The prize, first awarded in 2006, recognizes the best first fiction of the year with publication dates in the United States of America (USA) between January 1 and December 31 of the year in question.

The winner receives a prize of $15,000 while each of the other shortlisted authors receives $1,000.

The long list of twenty-four Writers of the Year was selected from more than 140 submitted titles. The titles were nominated by 96 volunteer readers chosen from the Centre’s diverse community of writers, booksellers, librarians, members and staff. A jury will sit in the coming weeks to deliberate on a shortlist, with a possible winner announced shortly after.

“Wanderers!” d’Osunde follows a group of outcasts in modern Lagos on a quest to lead a real life. It was published in the United States by Riverhead Books. More recently it was shortlisted for the inaugural Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize.

Naga’s “If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English” was published in the United States by Graywolf Press after winning the 2019 Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize. It focuses on the romantic encounters between an Egyptian American woman visiting Egypt for the first time and a sullen artist from the village of Shobrakheit, and how their love escalates into volatility.

Previously shortlisted African authors include Caine Prize winners Tope Folarin and Namwali Serpell, who were both on the 2019 longlist for “A Particular Kind of Black Man” and “The Old Drift,” respectively.

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