Fiction, with a Sense of Place

WINNER:
House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma 

A striking, rambunctious, Tom Ripley-ish debut about cuckoos in the family nest, the death of colonial Rhodesia and the bloody birth of corrupt Zimbabwe. ​

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma grew up in Zimbabwe, and has lived in South Africa and the USA. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her short fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies, and she was awarded the 2014 Herman Charles Bosman Prize for the best literary work in English. 

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SHORLTIST:
Ponti by Sharlene Teo

Told from the perspectives of three women in Singapore, Ponti by Sharlene Teo is an exquisite story of friendship and memory spanning decades. Infused with mythology and modernity, with the rich sticky heat of Singapore, it is at once an astounding portrayal of the gaping loneliness of teenage-hood, and a vivid exploration of how tragedy can make monsters of us. 

Sharlene Teo was born in Singapore in 1987. She has an LLB in Law from the University of Warwick and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where she received the Booker Prize Foundation Scholarship and the David TK Wong Creative Writing award. She holds fellowships from the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation and the University of Iowa International Writing Program. In 2016, she won the inaugural Deborah Rogers Writer’s Award for Ponti, her first novel. 

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Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi 

The year is 1750. Kintu Kidda sets out for the capital to pledge allegiance to the new leader of the Buganda kingdom. Along the way he unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. Blending oral tradition, myth, folktale and history, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu’s descendants as they seek to break free from the burden of their past to produce a majestic tale of clan and country – a modern classic. 

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, a Ugandan novelist and short story writer, has a PhD from Lancaster University. Her first novel, Kintu (Oneworld, 2018), won the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013 and was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize in 2014. She was awarded the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for her story Let’s Tell This Story Properly, and her first full story collection, Manchester Happened, will be published by Oneworld in 2019. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi was awarded the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction 2018 to support her writing. She lives in Manchester with her husband and son, and lectures in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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The Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Myrata, Translated by Ginny Tapsley Takemori

Meet Keiko. Keiko is 36 years old. She's never had a boyfriend, and she's been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years. Keiko's family wishes she'd get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won't get married. 

One of the most celebrated of the new generation of Japanese writers, Sayaka Murata has won not only the prestigious Akutagawa Prize, but the Gunzo, Noma, and Mishima Yukio Prizes as well. Her story, 'A Clean Marriage', was featured in Granta 127 Japan. She is 38 years old and works part-time in a convenience store. Ginny Tapley Takemori has translated Ryu Murakami, Miyabe Miyuki, Akiyuki Nosaka, and Kyotaro Nishimura, among others. Her translation of Tomiko Inui's The Secret of the Blue Glass was shortlisted for the Marsh Award.

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The Madonna of the Mountains by Elise Valmorbida

1923, north-eastern Italy: Maria Vittoria’s father has left the village to find her a husband. He has taken his mule, a pack of food and a photograph of Maria. There are no eligible men in this valley, or the next one, and her father will not allow her to marry just anyone. 

 Just as Fascism blooms in the country, the crops ripen, and the state demands babies – a new generation. There is much work to be done, and Maria faces a stony path, but one she will surely climb to the summit. 

Elise Valmorbida grew up Italian in Australia, but fell in love with London. She’s a designer, writer and teacher of creative writing. In recent years, she produced a feature film. Her fiction includes Matilde Waltzing, The TV President and The Winding Stick. Her non-fiction includes SAXON – The Making of a Guerrilla Film, and The Book of Happy Endings, now published in four languages and four continents.

Woman at Sea by Catherine Poulain

Lili is a runaway. She’s left behind her native France to go in search of freedom, of adventure, of life. Her search takes her to Kodiak, Alaska, home to a ragtag community of fishermen, army vets and drifters who man the island’s fishing fleet. Despite her tiny frame, faltering English and lack of experience, Lili lands a job on board the Rebel, the only woman on the boat. Out on the open sea, everything is heightened: colours are more vivid, sounds are louder and the work is harder than anything she's ever known. The terrifying intensity of the ocean is addictive to the point of danger. But Lili is not alone: in her fellow crew members she finds kindred spirits – men living on the edge, drawn to extremes. Woman at Sea cuts through the noise of life and straight to the heart of our innermost longings. 

Catherine Poulain has lived on the road and on the sea for most of her life. Employed in fish farms in Iceland and as a farm worker in Canada, she also worked as a barmaid in Hong Kong and in naval shipyards in the US. She spent ten years fishing in Alaska before returning to France, where she was born. Woman at Sea is her first novel.

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