Race for 2021 Nigeria Prize for Literature hots up

by Araayo Akande

The race for the 2021 edition of The Nigeria Prize for Literature is heating up with the release of a long list of 11 by the award’s Advisory Board. 

The 11 books were from the 202 works submitted for the prize sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) with a cash award of $100,000. 

They include ‘Delusion of Patriots’ by Obianuju V. Chukwuorji, ‘Give Us Each Day’ by Samuel Monye, ‘Imminent River’ by  Anaele Ihuoma and ‘In The Name of Our Father’ by Olukorede S. Yishau.

The others are Tony Nwaka’s ‘Mountain of Yesterday’, Lucy Chiamaka Okwuma’s ‘Neglected’, Obinna Udenwa’ The Colours of Hatred’ and Abi Dare’s ‘The Girl with The Louding Voice’. The remaining three books are  Chukwudi Eze’s ‘The Return of Half- Something’,  Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s ‘The Son of The House’ and Law Ikay Ezeh’s ‘Your Church My Shrine.  

A statement signed by the General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, NLNG,  Eyono Fatayi-Williams, disclosed that the jury chair for this year’s prize, Professor Toyin Jegede, presented the longlist. The other judges are Professor of Literature, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Tanimu Abubakar, and Senior Lecturer in English, University of Lagos, Dr Solomon Azumurana. 

She said the judges described the list as fresh approaches to looking at issues, using new and exciting narrative strategies, techniques and well-written organic plots to present topical discussions in realistic ways. 

The judges, she added, “stated that there has been a visible improvement in writing skills and commended NLNG for giving writers the platform to blossom and experiment.”

Also commenting on the longlist,  Chairperson of the prize’s Advisory Board, Professor Akachi Adimora Ezeigbo, said the Board unanimously agreed that the longlist of 11 was an excellent list. 

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She expressed her appreciation to the judges for a thorough job in selecting the shortlist. She stated that excellence was the watchword of the prize, adding that the onus was on the Advisory Board to continue in the tradition that was handed to them by the past Board. 

The Nigeria Prize for Literature has been awarded since 2004. It rotates yearly amongst four literary categories – prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s literature.

The prize runs concurrently with the Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism (also sponsored by NLNG), for which four entries were received in 2020. The literary criticism prize carries a monetary value of N1 million.

 A shortlist of three would be announced in September, while the Advisory Board would announce a  winner in October.

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