Photographer: Kajsa Göransson

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Latest book: En övning i revolution

Kayo Mpoyi's (b. 1986) first novel, Mai Means Water, was published in 2019 and was awarded the Katapult Prize for Best Debut 2020. Mpoyi studies at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, and is a frequent contributor to Dagens Nyheter and Swedish Radio, as well as a member of the authors' panel on the literary talk show Babel. 

Mpoyi has also published an illustrated children's book, Kitoko (2022).

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Mai betyder vatten
… I devour the novel as if it was written by an established author, with several works behind her. I’m swept away, seduced, transported to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, to 1989 and a few years ahead, in a story about God, words and female oppression / … / a debut novel that feels so impressively confident, that isn’t anxiously searching for a unique tone. It is already there, glowing. It is a book written by an author who was born in Congo and raised in Tanzania before she arrived in Sweden as a ten year-old, and who appears so international. Kayo Mpoyi also manages to create an intimacy with the characters she is writing about, even though it occurs in a type of magic fairytale style and even though everything is perceived through Adi’s gaze. Kayo Mpoyi creates complex individuals, and I even start to see the cruel father in a more redemptive light.
Svenska Dagbladet
Mai betyder vatten
The most remarkable thing about Kayo Mpoyi’s Mai Means Water is that it is her debut novel. I have difficulties recalling another debut written with the same fearless confidence, as if I was travelling with a driver who has had her license for fifty years. The novel’s many sub-plots are harmoniously interwoven; all the thoughts and emotions are completely authentic; the prose is like a flower frozen in spring water, and behind every line there is an alluring sense of danger.
Mai betyder vatten
With great proficiency Kayo Mpoyi uses her young narrator to illustrate the enormous political consequences. By focusing on Adi and the child’s sense of shame – how she always feels like she is being watched by God or her father – she creates an intimacy with the reader, something that usually goes to waste in epic stories /… / It is a mature debutant that emerges, she is in full command of the prose. Kayo Mpoyi never loses herself in elaborate attempts to explain the state of affairs /… / a timeless document over young people’s ability to reinvent themselves no matter what, also when they are drowning.
Helsingborgs Dagblad
Mai betyder vatten
Mai Means Water is a remarkably strong and solid debut, written in a stylish and suggestive prose that is both impressive and convincing. The novel shifts between darkness and light, hidden secrets and the seemingly everyday trivial events. Intense, luminous, alluring and yet menacing. With a great amount of curiosity and anticipation I look forward to Kayo Mpoyi’s next novel and her future authorship. Because this is undoubtedly something as fascinating as the beginning of an authorship.
Norrtelje Tidning


Kayo Mpoyi's "Mai Means Water" Shortlisted for French Literary Award

Following the recent French publication of Kayo Mpoyi's debut novel Mai Means Water (Dieu est un Garcon Noir a Lunettes), it is our pleasure to announce that the book has been shortlisted for the esteemed debutant award Premier Roman Étranger together with three other novels. The jury, which c...

Kajsa Göransson

Kayo Mpoyi Receives the Katapult Prize

We are so delighted to share the news that Kayo Mpoyi has been announced as the winner of the Katapult Prize - Sweden's oldest and most prestigious debutant award. The jury at the Swedish Writers' Union hails Mpoyi's novel Mai Means Water as "a remarkably stylish debut novel that spa...

Kajsa Göransson

Kayo Mpoyi's "Mai Means Water" Shortlisted for the Katapult Prize

Last year it was hailed by the critics as a remarkably strong and solid debut and a splendid novel and now Kayo Mpoyi's evocative coming-of-age novel Mai Means Water has been named as one of the five contenders for the Katapult Prize - Sweden's oldest debutant award. The win...

Kajsa Göransson

Kayo Mpoyi's debut receives magnificent reviews

It has been an exciting couple of weeks for our talented debutant Kayo Mpoyi whose novel Mai Means Water was just released in Sweden. Finnish rights have already been sold and the critics are full of praise for this spirited coming-of-age novel. Please see a selection of quotes below. Exp...

Kajsa Göransson
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