The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
MULTI-AWARD-winning Zimbabwean writer Philani Nyoni has once again proved his mettle as one of the country’s finest pens, after his latest short story anthology, Slick Dog: Diary of a Ninja made the shortlist for the inaugural Afritondo Short Story prize.
Nyoni went head to head with 420 other hopefuls from around the continent, before judges Megan Ross, Gloria Mwaniga, and Kelechi Njoku put him in a select group that will now vie for the top prizes.
The final winner is expected to be announced sometime next month.
“We received 421 entries from 19 countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Canada, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. We were happy with the spread even though the entries were by no means evenly distributed as there were more submissions from some countries and fewer from others,” the organisers said on his announcing the shortlist.
The organisers also elaborated on the criteria used to select the shortlisted candidates.
“We set up a team of eight readers with the task of drawing up a longlist. The first stage of this process produced 40 entries. However, due to our goal of publishing an anthology, we could only accept about 20 stories. The harder task was whittling the list from 40 down to 20. In order to do this, we had to apply stricter standards including appraising the quality of writing and assessing each entry’s reflection of the theme. It was a tough process and it was hard to see some good entries go.”
Nyoni expressed gratitude at this latest recognition, as it was the first such nod since he walked away with a gong at the 2017 Bulawayo Arts Awards.
“I feel honoured to have my work debated on a continental level once again. I haven’t received any brass since a BAA in 2017 but all nominations thereafter have been international and that is the growth I want to see in my works,” he said.