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New Short Story Day Africa anthology Water launched – Plus 2016 theme and editing mentorship announced

Short Story Day Africa Prize Winners 2015


Alert! The new Short Story Day Africa anthology, Water, was launched to the press yesterday, with the 2016 theme and a new editing mentorship programme being announced at the event.

SSDA is one of the most important writing initiatives in Africa, fostering a love of reading and writing African fiction by providing a platform for new stories to be written and discovered.

Feast, Famine and PotluckTerra IncognitaWater

Each year, SSDA hosts the Short Story Day Africa Prize, the continent’s most prestigious prize for an original piece of short fiction. The first prize, in 2013, went to Okwiri Oduor fom Kenya for “My Father’s Head”, which was published in the first SSDA anthology Feast, Famine & Potluck and went on to win the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing. In 2014, Diane Awerbuck’s story “Leatherman” took home the prize and was published in the second SSDA anthology, Terra Incognita.

Cat Hellisen was announced as the winner of the 2015 competition, which called for stories on the theme of “water”. Of Hellisen’s story “The Worme Bridge”, judges Nick Mulgrew and Karina M Szczurek said:

“The Worme Bridge” stood out for us with its brave story and clear, distinctive voice; it’s a wonderfully dark exploration of the water theme. The story works effortlessly to construct an other kind of reality while grounding itself in the real world. The writing is compelling: the reader is drawn into this family and the strangeness that overtakes them. We found this a powerful piece of writing that continues to haunt the reader afterwards.

Keep an eye on Books LIVE tomorrow, as we will be publishing Hellisen’s winning story in our next edition of Fiction Friday.

Second place went to Alex Latimer for “A Fierce Symmetry” and third to Mark Winkler for “Ink”. Read their stories here:

These stories will be published in the third SSDA anthology Water: New Short Fiction from Africa, edited by Szczurek and Mulgrew. At a special event to launch this book in Cape Town yesterday, the organisers announced the theme for the 2016 competition: Migrations.

Mulgrew, who made the announcement, stressed that this is one of the most central themes to the African experience, one that is integral to the essence of being African.

Here’s the theme breakdown in full, as presented by SSDA:

From our ancestors’ first forays through the continent, to the contemporary diaspora spread around the world, people are eternally moving in, out and about the African continent. Not everyone leaves out of their own volition, and not everyone comes with the best intentions: nevertheless, the story of Africa is the story of souls migrating, settling, unsettling, fleeing, seeking, resting, nesting and sharing stories, experiences and myths.

From great animal movements to great treks both physical and spiritual, from the comfort of ancient myth to the desperation of those currently fleeing their homes, Short Story Day Africa is looking for a crop of short fiction that will bring a fresh, urgent perspective to one of our most profound phenomena, and the basis of all our greatest stories.

A formal call for submissions will be made later this year.

Helen MoffettThe 2016 competition will also expand its territory to incorporate a new component, with this year’s editor Helen Moffett facilitating an editorial mentorship to help emerging editors from the African continent hone their skills and establish themselves in the book industry.

The selection process will also be different this year, with the top stories being edited before the judges make a decision. This will close the gap between new and established writers and allow the stories to be judged on the same level.

At the announcement, Moffett explained that this year will see a bigger consciousness of transliteration and editorial support for writers who do not write in their mother tongue, ensuring a fair chance for all entrants. Moffett said that skills transfer and the field of editing are close to her heart, and she hopes that the editorial mentorship will also aid where this is concerned.

Water: New Short Fiction from Africa will be launched to the public officially at The Book Lounge on Tuesday, 8 March. We’ll see you there!

Short Story Day Africa 2015: Water

From left to right: Organisers Tiah Beautement and Rachel Zadok; winners Cat Hellison, Mark Winkler and Alex Latimer; editors Karina Szczurek and Nick Mulgrew


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Helené Prinsloo tweeted live from the Water launch and announcement of the new theme yesterday:


Short Story Day Africa: Water

Rachel Zadok

Karina Szczurek and Nick Mulgrew


Book details


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