Ellah Wakatama Allfrey

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Ellah Wakatama Allfrey

Ellah Wakatama

(1966-09-16) 16 September 1966 (age 52)
OccupationLiterary editor and publisher
Known forEditing

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey OBE (born 16 September 1966) is a Zimbabwe-born editor and literary critic. She is a former Deputy Editor of Granta (2009–13)[1][2][3] and former Senior Editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House. She sits on the board of the Writers' Centre Norwich,[4] and is a patron of the Etisalat Prize for Literature.[5] In April 2019 she was announced as the new Chairperson of the Caine Prize for African Writing.[6]


In 1988, she graduated from Goshen College. In 2016, she received a Culture for Service Award.[7]

Allfrey's journalism has appeared in The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Observer and she is a regular contributor to the book pages of NPR. Her broadcasting includes a series of author interviews for Granta.com and she contributes regularly to NPR's All Things Considered and BBC Radio 4's Saturday Review.

In 2011 Allfrey was on the judging panel of both the David Cohen Prize and the Caine Prize for African Writing. In 2012 she was chair of the fiction panel for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.[8] Her introduction to Woman of the Aeroplanes by Kojo Laing (Heinemann African Writers Series) was published in 2012.[9] She edited the anthology Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara (2014), showcasing the writers in the Africa39 initiative.[10] In 2014 she was the Chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, won that year by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi.[11] She was a judge of the Man Booker Prize for 2015.[12][13]

In October 2017, Allfrey was announced as Publishing Director of new publishing house the Indigo Press.[14][15][16][17]

A Trustee and formerly Deputy Chair of the Council of the Caine Prize[18] since 2011,[19] she was apppointed Chairperson of the Caine Prize in April 2019, taking over from Delia Jarrett-Macauley.[20][21]


A Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts,[22] Allfrey was awarded an OBE in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to the publishing industry.[23][24]

Selected articles[edit]

  • Review of Call It Dog by Marli Roode (The Guardian, 28 August 2013)[25]
  • "The great Chinua Achebe was the man who gave Africa a voice" (The Observer, 24 March 2013)[26]
  • "All Hail the African Renaissance" (The Telegraph, 9 September 2011)[27]
  • "The cultural battle gave us books and music of genius" (The Observer, 13 April 2013)[28]


  • Guardian Books podcast: Political fiction[29]
  • Ellah Wakatama Allfrey on Behind the Headlines.[30]
  • Ellah Allfrey talks with Audible about the fourth edition of Granta′s "Best of Young British Novelists".[31]




  • African Writers Trust Literary Feast, Uganda, May 2012.[36]
  • Literary week Nairobi, judge.[37]
  • Judge for Kwani? Manuscript Project[38] – literary prize for unpublished fiction by African writers.
  • "The Trans-Atlantic, the Diaspora, and Africa" participant.[39] – conference hosted by Oxford University Research Centre for the Humanities, to discuss the newest theoretical scholarship emerging from the interdisciplinary fields of USA-derived Diaspora Studies and British-derived Trans-Atlantic Studies, and how these fields have diverged and converged in relation to the idea of Africa.
  • Patron of Etisalat Prize for Literature[40] – pan-African prize celebrating first-time African writers of published books of fiction.
  • Judge for 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize[41] – award for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000–5000 words) in English.
  • Wasafiri magazine (contributor), Volume 22, Issue 3, 2007.[42]
  • Interviewer – Binyavanga Wainaina's Book Launch[43]
  • Peter Godwin, The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe[44] (acknowledgements).
  • Judge for 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing.[45]
  • Introduction to Kojo Laing, Woman of the Aeroplanes.[46]
  • Judge 2011 for David Cohen Prize for Literature.
  • Editor of Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of the Sahara (2014), with a Preface by Wole Soyinka
  • Judge 2015 for Man Booker Prize
  • Editor of Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction (Cassava Republic Press, 2016)


  1. ^ Benedicte Page, "Allfrey joins Granta Magazine", The Bookseller, 20 July 2009.
  2. ^ Granta website.
  3. ^ Joshua Farrington, "Allfrey to leave Granta", The Bookseller, 3 May 2013.
  4. ^ "The board" Archived 9 May 2014 at Archive.today, Writers' Centre Norwich.
  5. ^ Prize Profile, Etisalat Prize for Literature.
  6. ^ "Our New Chairperson. Caine Prize statement - from the Board of Trustees", The Caine Prize for African Writing.
  7. ^ "Four alumni receive honors at Homecoming Weekend", Goshen College, 22 September 2016.
  8. ^ Judge Spotlight: Ellah Allfrey, NGC Bocas Lit Fest website.
  9. ^ Woman of the Aeroplanes, African Writers Series, Pearson.
  10. ^ Ngugi, Mukoma wa, "Beauty, Mourning, and Melancholy in Africa39", Los Angeles Review of Books, 9 November 2014.
  11. ^ Alison Flood, "Commonwealth short story prize goes to 'risk-taking' Ugandan", The Guardian, 13 June 2014.
  12. ^ "2015 Man Booker Prize Judges Announced, Including Caine Prize Council Member Ellah Allfrey", Books Live, 15 December 2014.
  13. ^ Flood, Alison, "Man Booker prize lines up highbrow judging panel for 2015 award", The Guardian, 11 December 2014.
  14. ^ Bainbridge, Ashton, "MILD Group launches new publishing venture: The Indigo Press Ltd", FMcM, October 6, 2017.
  15. ^ Edoro, Ainehi, "There’s a New Publisher in Town! | Indigo Press Promises Bold Ideas and Beautifully-crafted Stories", Brittle Paper, 4 June 2018.
  16. ^ "About", Indigo Press.
  17. ^ "Indie Indigo seeks to bring 'beautiful writing and necessary ideas' to readers | The Bookseller". www.thebookseller.com. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  18. ^ "Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, OBE – Deputy Chairperson" Archived 9 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, The Caine Prize, Council Members.
  19. ^ "Caine Prize announce Ben Okri as Vice President and Ellah Allfrey as Deputy Chair", Caine Prize press release 26 April 2011.
  20. ^ "Influential Publisher, Editor & Critic Ellah Wakatama Allfrey Is the New Chairperson of the Caine Prize", Brittle Paper, 7 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Ellah Wakatama Allfrey is new Caine Prize for African Writing Chairperson", James Murua's Literature Blog, 7 April 2019.
  22. ^ "Ellah Allfrey", RSA.
  23. ^ "Zimbabwean writer to receive OBE from Queen", New Zimbabwe, 31 December 2010; via The Zimbabwe Situation, retrieved 6 November 2018.
  24. ^ Aguirre, Richard R., "A royal honor for Ellah Wakatama Allfrey", Goshen College website, 4 April 2011.
  25. ^ Watakama, Allfrey. "Call It Dog by Marli Roode – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  26. ^ Comment is free, The Observer, 24 March 2013.
  27. ^ Watakama, Ellah (9 September 2011). "All Hail the African Renaissance: The Storymoja Hay Festival with the British Council in Nairobi". The Telegraph.
  28. ^ Quoted in "Margaret Thatcher and her influence on women", The Observer, 13 April 2013.
  29. ^ Presented by Claire Armitstead and produced by Tim Maby, Guardian Books podcast: Political fiction, 5 April 2013.
  30. ^ SWRadioAfrica.
  31. ^ "Ellah Allfrey, Deputy Editor of Granta, talks about Granta Best of Young British Novelists", Audible.co.uk, 4 April 2013. YouTube.
  32. ^ "The 10 best contemporary African books. As chosen by Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, deputy editor of Granta Magazine. From a reinterpreted Heart of Darkness to a barstool in Congo", The Observer, 26 August 2012.
  33. ^ Quoted in "No Violet: From the African Booker to the Booker longlist", GOtv, 25 July 2013.
  34. ^ Interview by Lance Guma on SW Radio Africa, Zimbabwe, broadcast 3 January 2011.
  35. ^ britishcouncilarts on Flickr.
  36. ^ TJH, "Updates from African Writers Trust", 6 April 2012.
  37. ^ "Granta comes to Nairobi", British Council, 19 June 2013.
  38. ^ "Ellah Wakatama Allfrey is Series Editor for Kwani? Manuscript Project", 27 November 2013
  39. ^ The 2013 Callaloo Conference, 27–30 November 2013.
  40. ^ Kan, Toni, "Etisalat launches new fiction prize", The Nigerian Telegraph, 5 June 2013.
  41. ^ "2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize judges: Chair: Ellah Allfrey, Commonwealth Writers.
  42. ^ Wakatama, Ellah; Letitia Adu-Ampoma, Biyi Bandele, Sarah Brouillette, Margaret Busby, Becky Ayebia, David Dabydeen, Lizzy Dijeh, Stacy Engman (October 2007). "Among the contributors". Wasafiri. 22 (3): 91–94. doi:10.1080/02690050701566123.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  43. ^ Wagwau, Adam, "Binyavanga Wainaina's Book Launch" (review), Ghafla!, 5 June 2012.
  44. ^ Godwin, Peter (2011). The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe. London: Picador. p. 368. ISBN 978-0330507776.
  45. ^ "Caine Prize Judges" Archive.
  46. ^ Laing, Kojo (2011). Woman of the Aeroplanes. Oxford: Heinemann. p. 286. ISBN 9780435045722.

External links[edit]