Huza Press Prize for Fiction

Literary prizes have long been at the heart of the literary industry. They have faced both criticism and acclaim but one cannot undermine their impact. Top of this list is the ability to bestow recognition on the works of writers and in essence to validate their efforts. Another equally important impact is the role of this prize in creating a literary canon. Prizes tend to encourage writing, but they also determine the type of writing and themes produced. The Caine Prize for African Literature for example has influenced the type of literature that’s coming out of Africa. This prize has supported African writing in a way that no other initiative has done before.

The Huza Prize for Fiction is Rwanda’s first prize for fiction and is in its second year. It managed to survive the “one-show” syndrome which has dogged many similar prizes. This prize has a particularly large sum attached to it with the winner taking 1000 USD. It also has the very rare component of awarding all shortlisted writers with 500 USD and mentorship from established African writers. Previous mentors have included Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go, 2014 winner of the Common Wealth Prize for Fiction Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Africa 39 authors Shadreck Chicoti and Edwidge Dro. All shortlisted stories are published in an anthology to make contemporary Rwandan writing accessible.

The Huza Prize for fiction targets emerging writers and hopes to discover Rwandan literary talents and introduce their work to the world. Skill transfer is a vital part of this prize, and this is facilitated through mentorship and workshops. The goal is to give Rwandan writers unprecedented access to established writers who they can learn from and share their writing journey. This initiative is aimed at creating a new breed of Rwandan writers whose work can compete at the international level and who will take Rwandan narratives to the rest of the world. Previous winners Darla Rudakubana and Daniel Rafiki had the rare opportunity of presenting their work to an international audience at the Writivism Festival in Kampala.

This year’s competition will close on November 30th and all competitors are required to send in a story of between 3000 and 5000 words. Stories can be submitted in English or French.

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