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The Spirit of the Africa39 Project

Africa39 seeks to produce a possible snapshot of our shared African future.

We have entered into this long-list making project with an openness to non-traditional ideas on what is “a published writer”, and are therefore open, even in this short time, to discover adventurous young Africans who will redefine our literary ecosystem in the future.

This process is guaranteed to be flawed as such processes always are.

At least 50% of the final long-list will be women writers. If, as we suspect, the percentage of the number of women in the list is 65%, then we will have reason to celebrate.

We cannot ignore the fact that we live in a continent where sexual and other minorities are most often not free to express their imaginations.

This long-list seeks to imagine the best possible and most diverse literary ecosystem and we shall not be afraid to be inclusive and provocative where such necessities arise.

Some countries have a recent vibrant writing culture in African languages. The long-list panel is committed to reserving a minimum of 25 places in the long-list for writers under 40 who have written fiction in any African language.

Writers of children’s fiction, prose fiction blogs, erotica writers, romance—the wild, weird, explorers of the imagination, are all encouraged to participate. Whatever your broadest idea of prose fiction is, you will be considered. If you are not sure, simply apply.

We are keen to engage with writers who write under pseudonyms and do so for issues of their own safety and creative freedom. If you are a fiction writer at risk for any of these reasons, please contact with the subject line “At risk”.

If you publish anonymously, you are still encouraged to submit your work though we will need to know your identity.

We are willing to create an infrastructure to assess any writing done in Braille.

We are keen to promote work that highlights the full diversity and complexity of our continent.

Ref. Call for submissions for The Africa39 Project

~ Binyavanga Wainaina,