Africa39 list of promising writers revealed

Bloomsbury Publishing, Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club have unveiled their list of the 39 most promising authors from Sub-Saharan Africa and the diaspora who will take part in Africa39 in celebration of Port Harcourt UNESCO World Book Capital 2014.

The writers’ names were revealed at a breakfast press conference at the London Book Fair today (Tuesday 8th April). There were also introductions from Margaret Busby, one of the judges, Koko Kalango, founder of the Rainbow Book Club, Peter Florence and Cristina Fuentes from the Hay Festival, and Bill Swainson from Bloomsbury Publishing.

The selected authors include Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize) for her novel Half of a Yellow Sun in 2007 and is currently shortlisted for this year’s prize for Americanah (both published by Fourth Estate).

Dinaw Mengestu, winner of the Guardian First Book Award in 2007 for his debut Children of the Revolution (Vintage), is also on the list, as is Ghana Must Go (Viking) author, Taiye Selasi, who was chosen as one of Granta’s Best of Young British novelists last year.

The full list of writers can be seen here.

The project is designed to bring worldwide attention to the best work from Africa south of the Sahara and its diaspora. It follows on from similar projects in Bogotá (UNESCO World Book Capital 2007) and Beirut (UNESCO World Book Capital 2010), which led to a Literature Festival being held in each city.

The Africa39 writers are all under the age of 40 and all have at least one work of fiction published. Publishers, literary agents and critics from around the world were consulted to create the longlist and those finally selected have been regarded by the judges as having the potential and the talent to define the trends that will mark the future development of literature in their region. Their work will be collected in an anthology, with an introduction by Nobel Prize laureate Wole Soyinka.

The book will be published in English throughout the world by Bloomsbury, in conjunction with Hay Festival and Rainbow Book Club. It will be launched at the Port Harcourt Book Fair in October 2014.

This will be followed by events across the world throughout 2014 until 2016, including appearances at Manchester Literary Festival, Hay Festival, Norwich Writers’ Centre and the British Library, funded by a grant for the arts from the Arts Council.