Ngugi Wa Thiong’o nominated in a first for Booker Prize


Ngugi has been nominated both as an author and translator for his book, The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi, in a first for the award. The book is one of 13 novels longlisted for the award “which celebrates the finest translated fiction from around the world.”

The book was published last year, written in Kikuyu and translated by Ngugi himself into English.

Ngugi is also the oldest longlisted at 83. The youngest is Olga Sofia Ravn, 34, from Denmark for The Employees. There are six men and seven women on the list. The shortlist will be announced on April 22 and the winner on June 2.
This year the judges considered 125 books. According to the awards announcement, “the contribution of both author and translator is given equal recognition, with the £50,000 prize split evenly between them.

Ngugi, a distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, is one of Africa’s, and the world’s foremost literary scholars and writers today with a writing and publishing career spanning nearly 60 years since his first novel, Weep Not, Child, published in 1964. This, his second and third novels, The River Between (1965) and A Grain of Wheat (1967) have been key texts in the study of African literature.

The longlist was selected by the 2021 judging panel consisting of; cultural historian and novelist Lucy Hughes-Hallett (chair), journalist and writer Aida Edemariam, Man Booker shortlisted novelist Neel Mukherjee, Professor of the History of Slavery Olivette Otele and poet, translator and biographer George Szirtes.