Malawi writer Chikoti wins the Peer Gynt Literary Award with futuristic story


Chikoti (standing), posing with from left to right James Ng'ombe, Jack Mapanje, Nyasa Times' Pius Nyondo
By Pius Nyondo, Nyasa Times.

Azotus the Kingdom, a futuristic novel – by Shadreck Chikoti - about Africa 500 years from now, was Thursday evening announced grand prize winner of the 2013 Peer Gynt Literary Award at an even held at Latitude in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe. Chikoti, a youthful Malawian writer and vice president of the Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) - with over five titles to his name - choked with joy during his acceptance speech describing his winning as a reward for his efforts towards creative writing. “I’m honored. At the same time I feel like the win is well deserved. This is a book I have worked on for over six years now,” said Chikoti. He added: “The manuscript was written in a space of three months while in a residency in Denmark. I wrote the first half of the book in Viborg and the other in Copenhagen where my co-director [at Pan African Publishers] Trine Andersen provided the environment.” The Nowergian government which bankrolled the award at a cost of over K10 million said it was encouraged with the impact the award has had on unearthing local talent. The government of Norway said it is ready to work with the Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) so that the union’s dream of promoting the reading and writing culture is achieved, a sentiment Mawu president Sambalikagwa Mvona appreciated. Norwergian ambassador to Malawi Asbjorn Eidhammer who decried the poor participation of women in the award (13 out of the 53 entries] said that the best three manuscripts will undergo further heavy editing before getting published internationally. “Our aim is to promote local writers by giving them a chance to publish internationally,” said Eidhammer. Azotus the Kingdom floored 12 other stories that were shortlisted by poet and novelist Hoffman Aipira, short story writer, critic and publishing editor Kingsley Jika and poet Maureen Mlenga. A panel of judges including world renowned writer and poet Jack Mapanje, award winning Zambian author Ellen Banda – Aaku and internationally recognized author and publisher James Ng’ombe also selected Evil Assignmentsby Ananiya Alick Ponje as the second best manuscript while veteran short story writer Jonathan Mbuna emerged third best entrant. The first three manuscripts got K500 000, K300 000 and K200 000 each respectively. Two consolation prizes of K50 000 each went to Dave Namusanya and Auspicious Ndamuwa.

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