Senegalese Writer Boubacar Boris Diop to Headline 2022 Neustadt Festival

September 8, 2022
by  WLT

A photograph of Boubacar Boris Diop juxtaposed with festival branding. Text reads: 2022 Neustadt Festival

NORMAN, OKLA. (Sept. 7, 2022) – The Neustadt Lit Fest, a celebration of international literature and culture, will take place Oct. 24–26 on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus. Headlined by Boubacar Boris Diop, the 2022 winner of the prestigious Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the hybrid festival will feature ten livestreamed, in-person plus two Zoom-only events for the first time in its more than 50-year history.

The festival and $50,000 award are sponsored by World Literature Today, OU’s award-winning magazine of international literature and culture.

Robert Con Davis-Undiano, WLT’s executive director, said that the decision to host a hybrid festival builds on strengths first discovered while hosting the festival virtually during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We will have the best of two worlds — most of the events will be in-person for local students, faculty and the general public, and yet all events will be available to the entire world through the Zoom platform,” Davis-Undiano said.

Interested attendees are invited to register for any of the 12 events on the Neustadt Prize website. The full schedule for the festival can be found here.

In addition to four events celebrating Diop, as well as the world premiere of the Black and Blues dance film based on his work, attendees can enjoy readings and book giveaways from the nine writers who served on the jury to select the next winner of the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. The 2023 NSK laureate will be announced during the Lit Fest.

Award-winning Senegalese author Diop (b. 1946) is one of today’s most prominent African novelists, playwrights and essayists. The Neustadt jury commended his most celebrated novel, Murambi: The Book of Bones (2006), which was inspired by his time in Rwanda in 1998 after the genocide against the Tutsi.

Diop has also won the Senegalese Republic Grand Prize (1990) for Les Tambours de la mémoire and the Prix Tropiques (1997) for Le Cavalier et son ombre. His two most recent novels, Malaanum lëndëm (2022) and Bàmmeelu Kocc Barma (2017), written in Wolof, were published by EJO Editions, a publishing house specializing in literature written in Senegalese national languages, which Diop founded in 2016.

Writer and translator Jennifer Croft nominated Diop for the Neustadt Prize. A Guggenheim Fellow, Croft won the Man Booker International Prize in 2018 for her translation of Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights.

Highly respected within the literary community for its recognition of excellence, the Neustadt International Prize for Literature is often referenced as the “American Nobel” for its reputation as a lead-up to the Swedish Academy’s annual selection. The first international literary award of its scope to originate in the United States, the Neustadt Prize is one of very few international prizes for which poets, novelists and playwrights are equally eligible. Winners receive $50,000, a replica of an eagle feather cast in silver and a prize certificate. A generous endowment from the Neustadt family of Dallas, Denver and Watertown, Massachusetts, ensures the award’s existence in perpetuity.

Established in 1927 as a magazine publishing office, the World Literature Today organization now serves the international, state and university communities by achieving excellence as a literary publication, a sponsor of literary prizes and a humanities center for students.