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The Commonwealth Writer's Prize has the biggest scope of the major awards I looked at for this series.  By announcing the finalists, I would think the Commonwealth Writer's Prize sells books. It is no secret who is competing.  Now your fiction reading list jumps 48 must read novels.  

The Commonwealth is England and all that jazz.  It is divided into 4 areas, Africa, Canada and Caribbean, South Asia and Europe, South East Asia and Pacific.

Each of the 4 areas gets 12 slots.  Six for best book and six for best first book.

The regional winners will be announced the first of March.  That will narrow your reading list to 8. The finalists will all be at the Sydney Writers' Festival in Australia on May 16 where the reading list will be reduced to 2.

Over the jump are the first 12 from Africa.

The regional short list of Africa is the first to add 12 books to your fiction reading list.

Africa Best Book:

The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone)

Forna's writing is not lyrical; you feel that what she is reaching for is economy of phrasing, aptness of imagery, exactness of description, and she achieves that perfectly. This is a remarkable novel: well researched, well thought out, well written – the kind that deserves to be on the Booker shortlist.   Reviewed by Helon Habila

Men of the South by Zukiswa Wanner (South Africa)


From an interview  ZUKISWA WANNER: Men of the South also visits the cultural question in contemporary SA, asking what it means to be a man and South African. The latter is written from the perspective of three males

The Unseen Leopard by Bridget Pitt (South Africa)


Review plus excerpt a work of crime fiction by Bridget Pitt, author of The Unbroken Wing.

Oil on Water by Helon Habila (Nigeria)


I read one bad review accusing Habila of recycling the same old stuff.  The other reviewer does not deny that nothing has changed in a decade.

Bernardine Evaristo  review after a kangaroo trial in 1995. International outcry brought the plight of the Niger delta, home to 20 million people, to public attention. Yet interest soon waned, and today little has changed.

Helon Habila's third novel is therefore topical and urgent, as it ambitiously tackles the collision between the oil companies,

Blood at Bay by Sue Rabie (South Africa)


Review by Chris In Blood at Bay, David Roth walks in on a gruesome accident at the Umvoti sugar mill. Then an auditor who insists that he has evidence of foul play ends up dead. Soon after,

Banquet at Brabazan by Patricia Schonstein (South Africa)

Review by Thando Schonstein said she’d included this poem in the frontispiece to tantalise the reader and to indicate that the book is a love story at its core. “Essentially, it’s a story of hidden love, of concealed love, about a boss and his secretary who have an affair that happens over 18 years. It’s all wrapped around poetry, drama, Shakespeare, costume and secrecy.”

Africa Best First Book:

Happiness is a Four Letter Word by Cynthia Jele (South Africa)


Reviewed by Chris Happiness is a Four-Letter Word is a riveting tale that will make you want to laugh out loud and one minute after, reach for the tissues. Think Sex in the City, but in Sandton…

Bitter Leaf by Chioma Okereke (Nigeria)

Reviewed by Tracey An evocatively imagined debut novel from a promising new writer about love and loss, parental and filial bonds, and everything in between that makes life bittersweet.

The Fossil Artist by Graeme Friedman (South Africa)

Review Mary Martin booksellers This is a brave novel in the guise of a classic ‘whodunit’. It’s a story about what makes us human and about how we bring both love and pain to our family relationships. Fossil Artist weaves matters of the heart and mind into a compelling story of one family, which traverses time and place, from the East End of London in the early 1900s to great archaeological sites in Africa.


Colour Blind by Uzoma Uponi (Nigeria)


ColourBLIND is a series, II coming soon.

Review Essence Publishing In ColourBLIND, Uponi masterfully weaves the fabrics of the Nigerian culture and tradition into a colourful tapestry of timeless wisdom and biblical truths; contrasted against a backdrop of suspicion, hurt, painful secrets and deception. This book is the stuff that movies are made of; each page threads you closer and closer to unraveling the conflict, only to find a new twist on the next.

ColourBLIND is a captivating, heartfelt witness to the unendinglove of God. It powerfully testifies to the healing power of God’s love and challenges the believer to trust in the Lord, regardless of the circumstances.

Voice of America by E. C. Osondu (Nigeria)


Interview by Laura Adibe 2009 Caine Prize winner E.C. Osondu is set to take the literary world by storm with this week's release of his debut collection of eighteen short stories in 'Voice of America," a Harper Collins imprint.

Wall of Days by Alastair Bruce (South Africa)

Wall of Days web site

About the novel

In a world all but drowned, a man called Bran has been living on an island for ten years. He was sent there in exile by those whose leader he was, and he tallies on the wall of his cave the days as they pass. Until the day when something happens that kindles in Bran such memories and longing that he persuades himself to return, even if it means execution. His reception is so unexpected, so mystifying that he casts about unsure of what is real and what imaginary. Only the friendship of a child consoles him as he retraces the terrible deeds for which he is answerable, and as he tries to reach back, over his biggest betrayal, to the one he loved. Wall of Days is a moving parable about guilt, loss and remembering.

Wall of Days - no Kindle - no paper Amazon
Voice of America  - yes Kindle
ColourBLIND - no Kindle - yes paper Amazon
The Fossil Artist - no Kindle - no paper Amazon
Bitter Leaf - no Kindle - yes paper Amazon
Happiness is a Four Letter Word - no Kindle - no paper Amazon

Banquet at Brabazan - no Kindle - yes paper Amazon
Blood at Bay - no Kindle - yes paper Amazon
Oil on Water - no Kindle - yes paper Amazon
The Unseen Leopard - no Kindle - no paper Amazon
Men of the South - no Kindle - yes paper Amazon
The Memory of Love - yes Kindle

Oopsie.  I let the cat out of the bag didn't I.  I was just fooling around and now we know the winners.  Money not only talks it blabs.

I am fairly certain that had I set my Amazon to UK, all of them would have been present.  Maybe I will try that when I look up the second quadrant Canada and Caribbean.

Have you read any of these books?  Would you read any of these books?

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 05:00 AM PST.

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