Sunday, May 22, 2011

Aminatta Forna Wins Commonwealth Writers Prize Award 2011

After winning the award for Africa Region, Aminatta Forna, author of The Memory of Love, was voted as the overall winner yesterday at a ceremony organised for the winners, in Sydney.

Best Book Winner: The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone). According to the judges:
The Memory of Love for its risk taking, elegance and breadth. A poignant story about friendship, betrayal, obsession and second chances – the novel is an immensely powerful portrayal of human resilience. The judges concluded that 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. Forna has produced a bold, deeply moving and accomplished novel which confirms her place among the most talented writers in literature today.
About Aminatta Forna: Aminatta Forna was born in Glasgow, Scotland and raised in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Her first book, The Devil that Danced on the Water, was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003. 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. Aminatta lives in London.

Best First Book Winner: A Man Melting by Craig Cliff (New Zealand). According to the judges they 
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 skilfully peppered with social observations that define the world we live in. 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.
About Craig Cliff: Craig Cliff was born in Palmerston North, New Zealand. A graduate of Victoria University’s MA in creative writing, his short stories and poetry have been published in New Zealand and Australia. His short story 'Another Language' won the novice section of the 2007 BNZ Katherine Mansfield Awards. Craig lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

Nicholas Hasluck, Chair of the judging panel said:
This year’s winning books demonstrate the irreducible power of the written word at a time of rapid global change and uncertainty. The standard of entries this year has been exceptional, showcasing work with strong insight, spirit and voice introducing readers to unfamiliar worlds.   
Read more about the awards and winners at the Commonwealth Foundation's site.


  1. I really enjoyed Forna's first book so really must read this one now. Fantastic that she won overall!

  2. I've not read any of her books. Looking forward to obtaining her books.


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