Three books, ‘The Girl with Louding Voice’ by Abi Dare, ‘The Son of the House’ by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Obinna Udenwe’s ‘Colours of Hatred’ have emerged finalists for The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2021.
The Prize’s Advisory Board announced the finalists at a virtual press conference on Friday.
The chair of the Advisory Board, Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, said the novels were selected out of a longlist of 11 from the original 202 entries.
She said the three novels centre on strong female characters, different unravelling circumstances and women’s experiences in the modern world.
The judges, Professors Olutoyin Jegede, Tanimu Abubakar and Dr Solomon Azumurana, also explained that they were unanimous in selecting the three novels.
They described the novels as full of suspense and intrigue in their report. They stated that the novels “tell human and indeed universal stories of rural as against urban life, suffering and survival, loss and redemption, decline and renaissance, destruction and reconstruction, and death and rebirth.”
‘The Girl with the Louding Voice’ tells the story of a girl-child from a first-person narrative mode. It unravels the plight of Adunni, a girl-child, who was forced out of poverty to marry at an early age to an elderly polygamous man. Her marriage to the man was for her to raise funds for her father’s survival. Thus the novel also tackles the issue of early marriage, child sexual abuse, childlessness in marriage, and domestic violence; on the other, the urgent need for female bonding or sisterhood in transcending the constraints in the life of women.
‘The Son of the House’ is a profoundly unconventional novel that portrays the lives of two women in different worlds whose paths crossed during captivity. But they soon realised their path had earlier crossed at various points. The stories of Nwabulu, a one-time housemaid and now a successful fashion designer, and Julie, an educated woman who lived through tricks, deceits, and manipulations, are told through a mosaic plot structure against the backdrop of modernity and traditional patriarchy, poverty, and neglect.
The third novel, ‘Colours of Hatred’, is a confessional tale that centres around the protagonist, Leona of the Dinka tribe, who killed her father-in-law. The novel is a whodunit that explores love, hatred, war, revenge, oppression, extra-judicial killings, military rule, displacement, and exile with attendant tensions that leave lasting emotional scars through introspection and re-telling the story.
The Advisory Board also announced the appointment of acclaimed Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga as the International Consultant for this year’s prize.
The award will run concurrently with NLNG’s Prize for Literary Criticism which carries a monetary value of N1 million. The prize winner will be announced in October.