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Elnathan John wins 2019 ‘LES AFRIQUES’ prize for ‘Born on a Tuesday’

Elnathan John wins 2019 ‘LES AFRIQUES’ prize for ‘Born on a Tuesday’


Nigerian writer, lawyer and satirist Elnathan John is awarded the 2019 ‘LES AFRIQUES’ prize for his novel Born on a Tuesday. The prize-giving ceremony will be held on June 29 2019 in the lounges of the Société de Lecture in Geneva.

John studied law at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria; he writes a weekly satire column for Daily Trust newspaper and is one of Nigeria’s most well known contemporary satirists. His writing has been published in The Economist, Financial Times, Per Contra, Le Monde Diplomatique, The Africa Report and The Guardian.

He is also one of the judges of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize.


It is yours this beautiful country, Jennifer RICHARD (Editions Albin Michel)

I am alone, Mbarek OULD BEYROUK (Editions Elyzad)

Season of Crimson Blossoms, Abubakar ADAM IBRAHIM (Cassava Republic)

La danse de Pilar de Charline, EFFAH ( Editions La Cheminante)

Born on a Tuesday, Elnathan JOHN (Cassava Republic)


LES AFRIQUES prize was created by the association La CENE Littéraire . It is awarded each year to an African author or an author of African descent who has written a work of fiction highlighting a human, societal, ideological, political, cultural, economic or historical issue related to Africa or its diaspora. LES AFRIQUES prize also aims at giving a greater exposure to African authors and authors of African descent living in Africa or in the Diaspora.


The jury’s members are :

Théo ANANISSOH (writer, Togo)

Boubacar Boris DIOP (writer & literature professor, Senegal)

Ambroise KOM (writer & literature professor, Cameroon, President of the jury)

Koulsy LAMKO (writer, Chad)

Hortense SIME (Medical Doctor, passionate about literature, Cameroon)

Born on a Tuesday, by Elnathan John

Told through the irresistible voice of a young boy, Dantala, Born on a Tuesday is a masterful and haunting coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of extremist politics and religion in Northern Nigeria. Dantala is a naive but bright Quranic student, who falls in with a gang of street boys, surviving on a regime of petty crime and violence. After being paid to set fire to the local headquarters of an opposition party, Dantala is forced to run for his life. Still reeling from the trauma of events, he stumbles into a Salafi mosque where he quickly becomes the favoured apprentice of the Sheikh and finds stability and friendship. From his place of refuge, Dantala confronts the hurdles of adolescence, first love and the splintering of family life – as his mother becomes increasingly unstable in the wake of a family tragedy and his brothers join a rival religious sect. But as political and religious tensions mount, he is torn between loyalty to his benefactor, Sheikh Jamal, and adherence to the Sheikh’s charismatic advisor, Malam Abdul-Nur.When bloodshed erupts around him, Dantala is tested to his limits. In this raw, authentic and deceptively simple novel, Elnathan John explores boyhood in the wake of extremism and fundamentalism. Born on a Tuesday delves behind the scenes of the media’s portrayal of Boko Haram bringing us a powerful and intensely personal picture of life in Northern Nigeria today.

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