Zambian Writer Mubanga Kalimamukwento Wins the 2024 Drue Heinz Literature Prize

Zambian Writer Mubanga Kalimamukwento Wins the 2024 Drue Heinz Literature Prize

Zambian writer Mubanga Kalimamukwento has won the 2024 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, receiving a $15,000 cash prize and publication by the University of Pittsburgh Press. The University of Pittsburgh Press will publish Kalimamukwento’s collection of short stories, “Obligations to the Wounded,” on October 8, 2024.

Founded in 1981 by the actress Dru Heinz, the Drue Heinz Literature Prize recognizes and supports writers of short fiction. The award is open to authors who have published a book-length collection of fiction or at least three short stories or novellas in commercial magazines or literary journals. Past winners include Stewart O’Nan, Elizabeth Graver, Caroline Kim, Leslie Pietrzyk, and Ramona Reeves.

Kalimamukwento’s “Obligations to the Wounded” uses proverbs and short stories rooted in Zambian languages, culture, and place to examine the cost of womanhood through the voices of 12 women and girls The stories illustrate women’s burdens through the lens of religious expectation, migration, loss of language, death, intimate partner violence and racial discrimination.

This year’s winner was selected by Pitt Writing Program Director Angie Cruz. Cruz praised Kalimamukwento’s winning collection, remarking that the stories beautifully describe Zambian women’s lives:

These thematically linked stories deliver an intricate study of Zambian women living in both Zambia and abroad who are weighing their options of who to love, where to live, where to work. The author, with a poet’s restraint, has written stories that deftly negotiate the challenges and tribulations women face when they feel the pressure and duty to yield to the will of family, community, customs, country and spiritual beliefs.

Kalimamukwento was thrilled to win the award and added, “This is a prize I have been reading and entering for years, so a win is a kind of ‘Finally’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’ moment for me.”

Kalimamukwento is a Zambian attorney and writer. She is the winner the 2022 Tusculum Review Poetry Chapbook Contest (2022) selected by Carmen Giménez, the 2019 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award, and the 2019 Kalemba Short Story Prize. Her work has also appeared or is forthcoming in adda, Aster(ix), Overland, the Red Rock Review, Menelique, and elsewhere.

Congrats to Kalimamukwento!


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