Mohamed Mbougar (28), is the youngest winner of the 2018 World Literature Prize. The Senegalese writer was awarded the prize for his book Silence of the Heart which was published by Présence Africaine.

The French Development Agency (AFD) created the World Literature Prize and the International World Literature Prize in 2014. The award comes with a €3,000 cash prize. Icelandic writer Einar Mar Gudmundsson won the International World Literature Prize for his novel The Kings of Iceland.

The literary divide on the continent is wide due to the division between Anglophone and Francophone literary communities. Once in a while we get to know what happens in the francophone literary space.

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Mbougar won the 2017 French Voices Awards for his debut novel Terre Ceinte (Earth Girdle). He was presented with the award in February this year. The young Senegalese writer joined the ranks of writers such as Alain Mabanckou, Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Scholastique Mukasonga, Yasmina Khadra, Léonora Miano, and Abdourahman A. Waberi.

Mohamed Mbougar
Senegalese writer Mohamed Mbougar Sarr was awarded the prize for his book Silence of the Heart which was published by Présence Africaine. Photo: Facebook/Mbougar Sarr

Mbougar is a young star in the francophone literary scene. At the age of 24, he had already won the Ahmadou-Kourouma prize at the African Book Fair in Geneva for his first novel Terre Ceinte. In 2015 his debut won the Grand Prix of the Metis novel, a French literary prize worth €5000.

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Mbougar whose favourite authors include Sembene Ousmane, Felwine Sarr, Leopold Senghor and Albert Camus, started writing seriously when he was 16. His first novel was triggered by the 2012 stoning of a Malian girl and a young man for living together without being married.

The young Senegalese writer continues to take huge strides in the literary world. Hopefully his books will be translated to English.