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Past African judges of the Man Booker International Prize

Nigerian writer, Chika Unigwe, was recently named one of the judges of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize. This news warrants a look back at African writers, that have previously sat on the judging panel of this illustrious prize.

Chika Unigwe

Nigerian writer, Chika Unigwe, has been announced a judge of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize. Unigwe, who was born in Nigeria in 1974, is the author of several novels including The Phoenix, On Black Sisters’ Street and Night Dancer. She is the Bonderman Professor of Creative Writing at Brown University in Rhode Island, United States.

Read: Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma shortlisted for £50K Man Booker Prize 2015

Before Unigwe, three other African women, Nadine Gordimer, Aminatta Forna and Elleke Boehmer, have been on the judging panel of the prestigious Man Booker International Prize.

Nadine Gordimer. Photo: Lärarnas Nyheter/Flickr
Nadine Gordimer. Photo: Lärarnas Nyheter/Flickr

Nadine Gordimer

South African writer and political activist, Nadine Gordimer, was on the judging panel of the Man Booker International Prize in 2007, the year Chinua Achebe won. Gordimer was born on 20 November 1923 in a mining town outside Johannesburg, South Africa. She was involved in HIV/AIDS causes and the anti-apartheid movement. Race issues are a recurring theme in her works. Some of her notable works are Burger’s Daughter, July’s People and The Conversationist for which she won the 1974 Booker Prize. Gordimer also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991. She died in her sleep on 13 July 2014.

Aminatta Forna. Photo: Hotel Palacio San Facundo/Flickr
Aminatta Forna. Photo: Hotel Palacio San Facundo/Flickr

Aminatta Forna

In 2013, Scottish writer of Sierra Leonean origin, Aminatta Forna, was one of the judges of the prize. Forna was born in 1964 to a Sierra Leonean father, and a Scottish mother. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. She is known for her memoir, The Devil that Danced on the Water and the novels, Ancestor Stones, The Hired Man and The Memory of Love. The latter won the the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for ‘Best Book’ in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Forna was awarded the Windham–Campbell Literature Prize (fiction) in 2014.

Elleke Boehmer. Photo: Books LIVE/Flickr
Elleke Boehmer. Photo: Books LIVE/Flickr

Elleke Boehmer

Elleke Boehmer was a judge of the Man Booker International Prize in 2015. She was born in Durban, South Africa, in 1961. She is known for her literary criticism and fiction. Her first novel, Screens Against The Sky, was published in 1990. Other works by Boehmer include An Immaculate Figure, Bloodlines, Nile Baby, Sharmilla and Other Portraits, and The Shouting in the Dark. She is Professor of World Literature in English at the University of Oxford.

Read: Reading African writers in the 2nd half of 2015

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