Zimbabwean writer Bryony Rheam has been selected as one of the 5 new Morland Writing Scholars for 2017. There were a record 550 entries from writers from across Africa, which was reduced to a shortlist of 21 before the final 5 were chosen by the judges on the basis of a book proposal and a sample of their writing. One of those chosen, Eritrea's Alemseged Tesfai, plans to write a history of Eritrea, the other four, - Bryony, South Africa's Fatima Kola and Nigeria's Elnathan John and Eloghosa Osunde - are to produce novels. Bryony Rheam is to write an historical crime fiction featuring a psychiatric hospital in Bulawayo, in which she will explore the treatment of those suffering mental illness and the complex dynamics of power, colonial society and migration.
The Miles Morland Foundation’s main aim is to support entities in Africa which allow Africans to get their voices better heard. It is particularly interested in supporting African writing and African literature.
Bryony Rheam's debut novel This September Sun, published by amaBooks, won 'Best First Book' at the Zimbabwe Book Publishers Awards and was chosen as a set text for 'A' level Literature in English for Zimbabwe schools. The novel was subsequently published in Kenya and in the United Kingdom, where it topped the Amazon UK sales charts as an e-book. Bryony has had many short stories published, including most recently in Moving On and Other Zimbabwean Stories. She is also a winner of the international 'Write your own Christie' writing competition and her second novel All Come to Dust, a murder mystery set in Bulawayo, is to be published in 2018 by amaBooks.
Amongst previous writers selected for the Morland Scholarships is Zimbabwean writer Percy Zvomuya for his planned biography of Robert Mugabe.
The judges for this year were Zimbabwean Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, the Chair, accompanied by Olufemi Terry and Muthoni Garland. Below are Ellah’s comments on the new Scholars.
"In this 5th year of the Morland Writing Scholarships it was hugely gratifying to see such an upswing in the number of submissions. We considered a 21 person shortlist with applicants from nine African countries. We were delighted by the range in choice of subject and approach and deeply impressed by the writing skill and ambition this shortlist represented.
We focused on the potential each application promised. Faced with excellence on all fronts, we found ourselves focused on several key questions. Is this a book that will achieve publication and find readers across the continent and beyond? Does the subject matter feel urgent and necessary? Has the author found the best form for the telling of this story? Does the submission show innovation and ambition?
This is an exhilarating list that bears witness to a wide range of thematic concerns and one that illustrates the ambition and promise of several generations of writers. We wish the scholars a busy and productive year."