Saturday, May 28, 2011

From the war drums of Sierra Leone comes an award winning “Memory of Love”

Animatta Forna's first book
Aminatta Forna was born in Glasgow and raised in West Africa or to be precise in Sierra Leone, a country whose pathetic history provided the needed inspiration on which Aminatta depended to publish her award winning book “The memory of love.”

The Memory of love won the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize 2011 in the category of the Best Book.

The judges praised The Memory of Love for its risk taking, elegance and breadth.

“It is a poignant story about friendship, betrayal, obsession and second chances and an immensely powerful portrayal of human resilience.” The judges said in praise of the book.

 “The Memory of Love delicately delves into the courageous lives of those haunted by the indelible effects of Sierra Leone’s past and yet amid that loss gives us a sense of hope and optimism for their future.”

Yet that is not just the only Award Winning book that has been written by the triumphant writer from Sierra Leone. Her first book, The Devil that Danced on the Water, was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003.

the picture of Animmatta Forna
Her novel Ancestor Stones was winner of the 2008 Hurston Wright Legacy Award, the Literaturpreis in Germany, was nominated for the International IMPAC Award and selected by the Washington Post as one of the most important books of 2006. In 2007 Vanity Fair named Aminatta as one of Africa’s most promising new writers.  

Aminatta who leaves in London with her husband has written for magazines and newspapers, radio and television, and presented television documentaries on Africa’s history and art.

The other winner in the competition was Craig Cliff in the category of the Best First Book: A Man Melting
Craig Cliff, a government worker, was born in Palmerston North, New Zealand in 1983. Cliff is a graduate of Victoria University’s MA in creative writing and his short stories and poetry have been published in New Zealand and Australia. His short story 'Another Language' won the novice section ofthe 2007 BNZ Katherine Mansfield Awards.
In Another Language Cliff explores a young narrator’s connection to his Serbian grandfather, his friendship with a Maori boy and the act of stuttering.
His first published collection of short stories, A Man Melting, gathers together his prize-winning and published short stories, as well as some new works. These 18 stories examine all of the big questions of life - birth, infancy, adolescence, violence, parenthood and death.
The judges chose this highly entertaining and thought provoking collection of short stories for their ambition, creativity and craftsmanship.
“Confidently blending ideas that frequently weave outlandish concepts with everyday incidents, the prose is skillfully peppered with social observations that define the world we live in.” The judges extolled the collection.
“The eighteen short stories are truly insightful and amplify many of the absurdities around us, reflecting our own expectations, fears and paranoia on the big questions in life.”
“This book is of the moment, and is rightly at home on a global platform. Cliff is a talent to watch and set to take the literary world by storm.”
The characters in these stories look for ways to reconnect with people and the world around them whilst Cliff examines complex issues such as alienation and belonging.
The winners of the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize were announced in Sydney in an exciting climax to this year's final programme on 21st May 2011.
For the last 25 years the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize has played a key role in unearthing new international literary names, bringing compelling stories of human experience to a wider audience.
As highly acclaimed international authors Aminatta Forna and Craig Cliff will follow in the footsteps of some of the biggest names in modern fiction in winning the Prize, including Louis De Bernieres, Andrea Levy, Ian McEwan, and Zadie Smith. 
For the fifth consecutive year the Macquarie Group Foundation, one of Australia’s leading philanthropic foundations, is helping to advance one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world. With Macquarie’s support the prize has grown to reach more people around the world, encouraging wider reading across a range of Commonwealth cultures and rewarding the rising talent that other prizes often overlook.

Related stories on the Commonwealth Writers Prize

Sierra Leone Story wins Commonwealth Writers Prize

Is the Commonwealth Writers Prize biased?

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