Zimbabwean author Farai Mudzingwa long-listed for British literary prize

Zimbabwean author Farai Mudzingwa long-listed for British literary prize

By thebritishblacklist.co.uk

The Republic of Consciousness Prize, which rewards fiction published by UK and Irish small presses, has announced this year’s longlist, and Zimbabwean author Farai Mudzingwa’s novel Avenues by Train made the cut.

In praising the book, Mudzingwa’s work was described by the prize’s judges as “an assured debut” which “addresses the objective truth of these lives but also deftly conveys the character’s subjective understanding of the forces that influence their fate.”

Mudzingwa, who lives in Harare, writes fiction, long-form journalism and TV/film screenplays. He was shortlisted for the 2019 edition of the Miles Morland Foundation Writing Scholarship.

His short fiction has been published by Weaver Press, Kwani?, Writivism, Short Story Day Africa: ID and Mbonga Press. He has been listed for the Short Story Day Africa (2019), Yvonne Vera Award (2013) and Writivism (2016) short story competitions.

Released by Nigerian publisher Cassava Republic Press in 2023, Avenues by Train follows Jedza, an electrician in newly independent Zimbabwe who is haunted by a childhood train accident and believes in spiritual forces controlling his life.

Leaving Miner’s Drift for Harare, he discovers escaping his past is more challenging than anticipated. Mudzingwa weaves an account of personal strife and finding relief against the backdrop of Zimbabwe’s political and social history, shining a light on the effects of colonialism on individual lives.

Established in 2017, the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses is an annual British literary prize founded by British novelist Neil Griffiths. It rewards fiction published by UK and Irish small presses, defined as “those with fewer than five full-time employees.”

The Prize aims to support a range of publishers for their ongoing commitment to work of high literary merit.

Besides the prize, the Republic of Consciousness also runs a range of events and initiatives including a Book of the Month club (which promotes small presses and high-quality literary fiction),  lectures for Creative Writing students, readings in bookshops around the country, and panel discussions at literary festivals.

Previous African nominees include Elnathan John, Yewande Omotoso, Vanessa Onwuemezi, Scholastica and Simon Okotie.

Since its inception, the Republic of Consciousness Prize has awarded over £100,000 to publishers and authors. This year’s prize celebrates fiction in translation, and the judges are Declan O’Driscoll, Sana Goyal and Rebecca Adams.

The winner of this year’s Republic of Consciousness Prize will be announced at the award ceremony held at Foyles, Charing Cross Road on April 17.