The University of Houston College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) is pleased to announce that alumnus Dr. Peter Kimani, who earned a Ph.D. in Literature and creative writing in 2014, has been nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. With his third novel, Dance of the Jakaranda, Dr. Kimani has taken a significant step in establishing himself as a preeminent voice in the world of fiction writing. First published in February 2017, the novel is among six works of fiction nominated for the prestigious Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Named for influential black writers Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright, the national award recognizes “the best in Black literature in the United States and around the globe.”
Dance of the Jakaranda was nominated for Hurston/Wright Legacy Award from a pool of 140 submissions. The success of the novel has allowed Dr. Kimani, who served as a teaching fellow in the creative writing program, to take his career in writing and academia to new heights.
“I am overjoyed to learn that Dr. Peter Kimani has been nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award,” said Dr. Antonio D. Tillis, dean of CLASS. “Dr. Kimani is an incredibly gifted fiction writer whose nomination for a major literary award was long overdue. His ability to address weighty racial and political topics with wit, emotion and style should serve as an inspiration for all writers and artists in the CLASS community.”
Although the Hurston/Wright nomination is Dr. Kimani’s first for a major award, Dance of the Jakaranda has enjoyed plenty of critical and commercial success, availing new avenues to the author and poet.
“I have toured the world extensively over the past year, attending some of the world’s biggest book festivals, from New York’s PEN World Voices, to Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in Los Angeles, to Calabash Lit-fest, a biennial event in Jamaica,” Dr. Kimani said in an interview with The Standard. Dance of the Jakaranda, which follows three racially and culturally diverse men whose lives intersect in postcolonial Kenya, received a glowing review from The New York Times, and was the #1 bestseller in Amazon’s African Historical Fiction category.
“I am thrilled that Dr. Kimani continues to receive praise for his work, Dance of the Jacaranda,” said Paula Myrick Short, UHS senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and UH senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “The success of this work is in part due to the dedicated faculty of our creative writing program, where Dr. Kimani earned his doctorate. He is a perfect example of the talent and dedication of all of our students in that program who dedicate countless hours towards pursing their creative visions. This novel is truly deserving of its numerous accolades, and I wish him the best as he pursues the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.”
The winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award will be announced in October following a public reading by the nominees in Washington, D.C.