Tram 83: 2015 Etisalat Prize in Literature Goes to a Book about a City in Secession

Fiston Mwanza Mujila

Fiston Mwanza Mujila, author of Tram 83 has been announced as the winner of the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature Saturday evening in Lagos at a well attended colorful ceremony.

As described in the book’s summary, Tram 83 is about two friends, one a budding writer home from Europe, the other an ambitious racketeer, they meet in the only nightclub, the Tram 83, in a war-torn city-state in secession, surrounded by profit-seekers of all languages and nationalities. Tram 83 plunges the reader into the modern African gold rush as cynical as it is comic and colorfully exotic, using jazz rhythms to weave a tale of human relationships in a world that has become a global village.

Mujila was born in 1981 in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, where he went to a Catholic school before studying Literature and Human Sciences at Lubumbashi University.

He now lives in Graz, Austria, and is pursuing a PhD in Romance Languages. His writing has been awarded with numerous prizes, including the Gold Medal at the 6th Jeux de la Francophonie in Beirut as well as the Best Text for Theater (“Preis für das beste Stück,” State Theater, Mainz) in 2010.

His poems, prose works, and plays are reactions to the political turbulence that has come in the wake of DRC independence and its affect on day-to-day life. As he describes in one of his poems, his texts describe a “geography of hunger”: hunger for peace, freedom, and bread.

Tram 83, written in French and published in August 2014 is his first novel. It has been shortlisted and won numerous literary prizes in France, Austria, England, and the United States. The book has recently been translated from French to English by Roland Glasser.