Zimbabwean writers Simbarashe Kundizeza and Chioniso Tsikisayi longlisted for the 2024 Island Prize

Zimbabwean writers Simbarashe Kundizeza and Chioniso Tsikisayi have been longlisted for this year's Island Prize. This makes it the third year running that a Zimbabwean writer has made the longlist. Last year the list featured Tanaka Chidora for his manuscript Carrying a Country on Your Forehead and in the award's inaugural year Lucille Sambo was longlisted as She Elephant.

Chioniso Tsikisayi

The Island Prize is a literary prize that has been curated with the primary aim of helping African writers break into the UK publishing scene. It was founded by Booker-longlisted author Karen Jennings. The prize is open to unpublished debut novelists from all African countries or the diaspora. 

From the submitted entries, no more than TEN and fewer than FIVE authors will be

invited to submit their full manuscript. These authors will be provided with optional

feedback. From this shortlist the winning three entries will be chosen, with prize money of £500 for first, and £200 for each runner-up. The winning three manuscripts will be considered for publication and read by an agent.

The list this year featured 10 manuscripts:

In Vain by Joao Canoquena (Angola)

Lyrics to the Colour Red by Ruby Excel (Ghana)

Landlord of the Evil Forest by Chidinma Iwuoha (Nigeria)

Before the Rapine by Kebba S. Juwara (Gambia)

When The Shadows Call by Mali Kambandu (Zambia)

Freelance by Simbarashe Steyn Kundizeza (Zimbabwe)

The Village Bus by Phelelani Makhanya (South Africa)

Outside Where the Rain Falls by Wayne Samuel (Nigeria)

Marionette by Reda Soliman (Egypt)

What it Means to Outlive a Daughter by Chioniso Tsikisayi (Zimbabwe)

To be recognized among the 10 novels longlisted from a pool of hundreds of submissions is a true honour. Writing my first novel was a multi-year journey of learning, unlearning, and growth. There were many moments of doubt along the way, but my passion for telling this story kept me going. To see that work acknowledged in this way is deeply humbling and validating. Being longlisted opens doors for connections and discussions that could help take my writing and career to the next level. I'm grateful to the Island Prize judges for their consideration and belief in my story's potential to resonate. - Simbarashe Kundizeza

Simbarashe Kundizeza is a Harare-based writer whose previous publishing credits include short stories in the 2018 Africa Book Club Short Story Competition anthology and Transition Magazine Issue 131. The writer felt extremely honoured to be part of this exclusive list of writers. He expressed gratitude to the founders of the award and everyone who has been part of his support system. 

To Karen Jennings, Robert Peett and everyone at Holland House Books, thank you for providing this much-needed platform for emerging African writers. To my fellow longlisted authors, congratulations! I am inspired by your talent and your commitment to storytelling. Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this publishing journey so far - your encouragement made this achievement possible. Here's to continuing the conversation my novel hopes to spark. The best is yet to come! - Simbarashe Kundizeza

Chioniso Tsikisayi is a spoken word poet, writer, filmmaker, and singer based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Her work has appeared in Brittle Paper, Isele Magazine, Litro Magazine and The Kalahari Review. In 2021 she placed third for theIntwasa Short Story Competition 2021. She was a runner-up at the 65th Poetry Slam Africa in 2022 and was selected as a finalist for the African Women Playwrights Network’s festival of plays.

Simbarashe Kundizeza and Chioniso Tsikisayi longlisted for the 2024 Island Prize

The multi-talented creative won the Canopus Award for Interstellar Writing in Fiction at the NEXUS 2023 Conference and in 2024 she was nominated for Outstanding Poet at the NAMA Awards.

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