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Tsitsi Dangarembga makes the Booker Prize longlist for her novel 'This Mournable Body.'

Tsitsi Dangarembga and Maaza Mengiste Make 2020 Booker Prize Longlist

Zimbabwean literary giant Tsitsi Dangarembga and Ethiopian-born Maaza Mengiste appear in the latest Booker Prize longlist.

Zimbabe's Tsitsi Dangarembga has once again gained international prominence through her third novel This Mournable Body. The announcement of the annually anticipated Booker Prize Longlist recognises the third book from Dangarembga as an auspicious body of work worthy to be on the list. Ethopian-American Maaza Mengiste's The Shadow King is another historic African selection for the reputable prize.

Originally only for commonwealth countries, The Booker Prize is an international literary award institution that financially rewards orignal English literary submissions from around the world.


In 51 years of The Booker Prize, African authors have been nominated over 40 times but these nominations have been controversially dominated by European African authors. Nigerian authors, Ben Okri and Bernardine Evaristo are recorded recipients of the prize.

Read: Outrage as the BBC Refers to Joint Booker Prize Winner Bernardine Evaristo as 'Another Author'

This Mournable Body picks up from Dangarembga's seminal work, Nervous Conditions. This Mournable Body is a somber outlook on life in Harare for Black female protagonist Tambu (the protagonist of Nervous Conditions) 30 years later. The latest narrative was well-received as it reflected the volatile political landscape in Zimbabwe and maintained Tambu's aspirational resilience.

Maaza Mengiste joins the literary trail of Black African women with The Shadow King, a novel that revisits the Italian-Ethopian war under Mussolini's reign. Much like Dangarembga, Mengiste highlights the wars unseen, the wars that women have to face in political upheaval and the unfair resilience required of them.

Tsitsi Dangarembga and Maaza Mengiste are the only two writers from Africa in the list of 13 authors. Winning authors from this year will receive 50,000 pounds.

The Booker Prize longlist 2020:

Diane Cook (US) for The New Wilderness (Oneworld)

Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe) for This Mournable Body (Faber & Faber)

Avni Doshi (US) for Burnt Sugar (Hamish Hamilton)

Gabriel Krauze (UK) for Who They Was (4th Estate)

Hilary Mantel (UK) for The Mirror & the Light (4th Estate)

Colum McCann (Ireland/US) for Apeirogon (Bloomsbury)

Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia/US) for The Shadow King (Canongate)

Kiley Reid (US) for Such a Fun Age (Bloomsbury Circus)

Brandon Taylor (US) for Real Life (Originals, Daunt Books)

Anne Tyler (US) for Redhead by the Side of the Road (Chatto & Windus)

Douglas Stuart (Scotland/US) for Shuggie Bain (Picador)

Sophie Ward (UK) for Love and Other Thought Experiments (Corsair)

C Pam Zhang (US) for How Much of These Hills Is Gold (Virago)

Music
Photo courtesy of AYLØ.

Interview: AYLØ Bridges His Music & Universe In the 'Clairsentience' EP

The Nigerian artist talks about trusting your gut feelings, remedying imposter syndrome and why our identity is best rooted in who we are, rather than what we do.

AYLØ's evolution as an artist has led him to view sensitivity as a gift. As the alté soundscape in the Nigerian scene gains significant traction, his laser focus cuts through the tempting smokescreen of commercial success. AYLØ doesn't make music out of need or habit. It all boils down to the power of feeling. "I know how I can inspire people when I make music, and how music inspires me. Now it's more about the message."

Clairsentience, the title of the Nigerian artist's latest EP, is simply defined as the ability to perceive things clearly. A clairsentient person perceives the world through their emotions. Contrary to popular belief, clairsentience isn't a paranormal sixth sense reserved for the chosen few, our inner child reveals that it's an innate faculty that lives within us before the world told us who to be.

Born in 1994 in Benin City, Nigeria, AYLØ knew he wanted to be a musician since he was six-years-old. Raised against the colorful backdrop of his dad's jazz records and the echoes of church choirs from his mother's vast gospel collections, making music isn't something anyone pushed him towards, it organically came to be. By revisiting his past to reconcile his promising future, he shares that, "Music is about your experiences. You have to live to write shit. Everything adds up to the music."

Our conversation emphasized the importance of trusting your gut feelings, how to remedy imposter syndrome and why our identity is best rooted in who we are, rather than what we do,

This interview has been edited for purposes of brevity and clarity.

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