Author Rheam selected as one of Africa's best

BULAWAYO – Bulawayo-based author Bryony Rheam has been included among five new Morland Writing Scholars for 2017.

Rheam was selected from a shortlist of 21 writers gleaned 550 writers from all over Africa in the annual competition that awards scholarships to writers on the continent so that they can complete a particular piece of writing.

For being selected among the five, Rheam will be given £18 000 which will be paid over a year to enable her to write the book she proposed.

Rheam’s proposed book is a historical crime fiction featuring a psychiatric hospital in Bulawayo in which she will explore the treatment of those suffering mental health issues, the complex dynamics of power, colonial society and migration.

“I am incredibly happy to receive this news. To be picked from around 550 applicants is a great honour,” Rheam told the Daily News.

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 Zimbabwean schools.

This September Sun was subsequently published in Kenya and in the United Kingdom where it topped the Amazon UK sales charts as an e-book.

Rheam has also published many short stories in several publications which include most recently Moving On and Other Zimbabwean Stories. Rheam, the winner of the international 'Write your own Christie' writing competition, will publish her second novel titled All Come to Dust with Bulawayo-based amaBooks next year. The book is a murder mystery set in Zimbabwe’s second largest city.

The four writers selected alongside Rheam include Eritrea’s Alemseged Tesfai, South Africa's Fatima Kola, Nigeria’s Elnathan John and Eloghosa Osunde.

Morland Writing Scholars are selected by the Miles Morland Foundation with the aim to supporting and promoting those involved African writing and literature.

Each successful scholar is supposed to submit 10 000 words each month throughout their scholarship period. Previous writers selected for the Morland Scholarships include Zimbabwean writer Percy Zvomuya for his planned biography of Robert Mugabe.

The judges for Morland Writing Scholars for 2017 were Zimbabwean Ellah Wakatama Allfrey (chairperson), Olufemi Terry and Muthoni Garland.

In their citation the judges said:

"In this fifth 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.”

The judges added:

“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."