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Yewande Omotoso’s fabulous Bom Boy on Etisalat prize shortlist

Bom Boy by Yewande OmotosoYewande Omotoso does it again, Bom Boy has been shortlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize. My inbox has been pinging with queries from agents, requests for review copies from places as far afield as the UK and Ghana, and the Nigerian press is full of the short-list story. The other two authors and books that are on the list are No Violet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names and Karen Jennings’ Finding Soutbek. The short-list thrills me because all of them are women. And they are all wonderful women. Karen Jennings worked for Modjaji as an intern a couple of years ago, and she is still a firm friend of mine and of Modjaji Books. I would be thrilled if any of the authors won.

I really commend Etisalat and the prize organisers for the way they have thought through the prize, they are taking the three short-listed writers on a three city book tour. The books they are buying are creating distribution pathways within Africa, so that links are built up and the way is paved for future book sales into the sites that are identified.

This is a big deal for Modjaji Books, especially as the prize organisers have decided to, as part of the prize, buy 1000 copies of the three short-listed titles for book clubs, libraries and other institutions all over Africa. Usually only the authors get a prize, and in South Africa, being short-listed or even winning a prize doesn’t necessarily mean that sales shoot up. Sure – you might sell an additional 50 or 100 copies of a ‘literary’ novel, but never 1000 copies.

The Nigerian press has taken up the prize with great gusto, here is a link and here is another. Because of Yewande’s Nigerian origins – she seems to be their favourite.

The Blogosphere has lit up with news of the shortlist too. 9jaFlave has carried the story, and so has Kinnareads. James Murua’s blog features the story too.

Now we wait till the 23rd February, Lagos, to hear who is the winner. But so far, all three authors and their publishers are winners.

Bom Boy

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