It was exciting this week to receive copies of the three winning books in the 2013 Burt Award for Young Adult Literature in Ethiopia. Congratulations to the winners, and to everyone at CODE-Ethiopia for their administration of the award and for seeing the winning books through to publication.
I had the privilege of sitting on the jury, first to establish a shortlist, and then to select the winners from a stack of entries. We met for three days at the Rosemary Hotel in Bishoftu (formerly Debra Zeyit), a town about 30 miles from Addis Ababa, situated among seven crater lakes at an elevation of 6,300 ft.
I was on the jury again this year, to choose the 2014 winners, but this time took part at a distance, emailing my responses and thoughts about the manuscripts while the jury deliberated, a system that wasn’t ideal, of course, but still worked surprisingly well (with the added advantage for the jury of not having to listen to me).
The 2013 winners are: The Revelation, by Kibrom Gebremedhin, Behind the Invisible Bars, by Eyob Getahun, and Breaking the Chain, by Daniel Negash.
In The Revelation an earnest and ambitious university student struggles against the obstacles of a broken family and uncaring fellow students. Kibrom Gebremedhin, a poet, is a senior corporate communications expert in Addis Ababa.
Breaking the Chain takes its young adult readers on a wild and exciting adventure in which a young woman takes on human traffickers, corruption, and organ harvesting at the same time as she struggles with conflict within her family. Daniel Negash, an accountant, has eight children’s books, written in the Amharic language, in publication.
In Behind the Invisible Bars two struggling young people of Addis Ababa, a blind girl and a petty thief, embark on a mission that takes them into a dark and dangerous world of greed and kidnapping. Eyob Getahun has published three books in Amharic, including Yaltenore Lijnet (Robbed Childhood), which is based on a true story.
CODE (the Canadian Organisation for Development through Education) supports literacy and learning in Canada and around the world. Its international programmes encourage development through education through support to libraries, and professional development for teachers, as well as national and local book publishing in 20 languages.