Language and prizes

Exploring literary and cultural boundaries

Authored by: Doseline Kiguru

Routledge Handbook of African Literature

Print publication date:  March  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN:
eBook ISBN: 9781315229546
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the value of creative writing in African languages within the African literary prize industry. In particular, it reviews deliberate efforts by award industries to expand cultural and literary boundaries through selected languages, and the effect that this has had on the East African literary scene. Focusing on awards for Kiswahili literature, the chapter seeks to bring two sets of discussion into dialogue with one another: the debates about award culture and African dependency on the one hand, and the debates about the languages of African literature, on the other hand. This discussion of awards for Kiswahili literature addresses some of the concerns expressed by scholars on African language writing like Clarissa Vierke (2016) who in a recent article highlighted the failure of critics to engage with African language writing. The chapter will also reflect on the shifting positions of African languages within national culture industries and the global literary economy.

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