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Short Story Day Africa

When Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, addressed the TED Conference in 2009, she spoke of the danger of the single story, a distorted, one-dimensional view of Africa that sees the continent only through a prism of war, disease, poverty, starvation and corruption. Short Story Day Africa was established to celebrate the diversity of Africa’s voices and tell you who we really are; what we love; love to eat, read, write about. We want to bring you the scents on our street corners, the gossip from our neighbours, let you listen to strains of the music we dance to. Because we have something to tell the world. About us. In our own voices.

Over the past decade, the publishing industry has become risk-averse. The words “genre-defying” and “original” make agents and editors break out in a cold sweat – or so we’re told. The industry is constantly described as conservative. Manuscripts are rejected for being too cerebral, unsellable in a market that wants only apple pie. An alternative publishing model has grown up around writers looking for new routes to readers. However indie publishers are often (unfairly) perceived as exploitative and the work produced by them as subpar. African writers face an additional challenge, to decolonise the literary sphere and write what we like.

It is in this climate that Short Story Day Africa was formed and, in the eight years since inception, the SSDA team has developed a survival ethos: to subvert and reclaim. Reclaim the place of the short story. Reclaim a space for non-conformist writing. Subvert ideas about what it means to be a writer in Africa. Subvert ideas about what makes a story African.

Short Story Day Africa has published six anthologies and 122 writers. We have helped develop writers (often being the first publisher to work with them) who have gone on to win or be shortlisted for multiple awards, including the Short.Sharp.Stories Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the Caine Prize for African Writing, the African Speculative Fiction Society NOMMO awards, the Brittle Paper Awards, and others. These include Okwiri Oudor, Efemia Chela, Megan Ross, Stacey Hardy, Michael Yee, Derek Lubangakene, Sibongile Fisher, Cherrie Kandie, Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor, Innocent Chizaram Ilo, Idza Luhumyo, Harriet Anena and Cat Hellisen. Many have gone on to publish more short stories, screenplays, dramas, poetry and novels. Others have been shortlisted for or won prestigious writing residencies, or have been accepted for Masters in Creative Writing programs around the world. Our past editing fellows have gone on to secure jobs in the growing and dynamic publishing industry across the continent.

Short Story Day Africa may be tiny, but it is integral to the African literary sphere.

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