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Cameroonian Nominated For Pushcart Prize 

By Walter Wilson Nana
— Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi is a literary critic and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at North Carolina State University, USA. This Cameroonian-born writer and her short story; "Woman of the Lake" have been nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize.

"Woman of the Lake" is about the Lake Nyos disaster that wiped out entire communities in Cameroon in August 1986. “These people brought back Kinbi’s words uttered through loud sobs and hiccups: “You go to one compound, and they all finished. You go to another compound, and there is one man and maybe one child living.

They all dead. When you touch them, they be like stone and the white spot on their mouths and on the ground. My wife, my six children, all dead.” And the scientists would gnash their teeth, stamp their boots on the muddy earth, nurse their ulcers with Pepto-Bismol and throw their hands up in the air. What to do with so much vexation!” writes Makuchi in "Woman of the Lake".

The Pushcart Prize has been awarded to the best work from small presses, every year since 1976, and is the most honoured literary project in America. Hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in the pages of the Small Presses annual collections. Pushcart Prize editions are found in most libraries and bookstores. Each volume contains an index of past selections, plus lists of outstanding presses with addresses.

Writers who were first noticed include: Raymond Carver, Tim O’Brien, Jayne Anne Phillips, Charles Baxter, Andre Dubus, Susan Minot, Mona Simpson, John Irving, Rick Moody, and many more. Each year most of the writers and many of the presses are new to the series.

The Pushcart Prize Fellowships is the endowment for The Pushcart Prize, and appreciates contributions in any amount. Juliana Nfah-Abbenyi, Faculty Senator and Park Faculty Scholar Class of 2013 in the Department of English, North Carolina University also writes fiction under her pen name, Makuchi.

She was born and raised in Cameroon and is currently Professor of English and Comparative Literature at North Carolina State University where she teaches courses in World and Post-colonial Literatures, Literary Theory, and Women’s and Gender Studies.

She is the author of Gender in African Women’s Writing: Identity, Sexuality, and Difference Your Madness, Not Mine: Stories of Cameroon and The Sacred Door and Other Stories: Cameroon Folktales of the Beba.

Her work has appeared in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, The Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad, Theory, and African Gender Studies: A Reader. She is currently working on a novel.

Reacting to her nomination, some enthusiasts of her literature wrote; “congratulations! I was very moved by the way you challenged the noisy, yet clueless "Redeemers" from the West, while managing to acknowledge and give voice to the pain and exploits of the suffering people of Nyos. This nomination is well deserved and let’s hope the prize will come home,” noted Cilas Kemedjio.

According to Kenneth Usongo, Makuchi’s “Woman of the Lake" is an incredible story. “It’s a compelling and well crafted story. No surprise that you were nominated. You know my favourite part of your craftsmanship? The word pile. For example: Germans. Reputable. Eminent. Scientists. It’s an absorbing and refreshing style of writing. Hearty congratulations! This nomination is a celebration of your literary creativity,” he added.

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