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.
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.
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.
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 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.