The Advisory Board for The Nigeria Prize for Literature, led by Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo has announced an initial shortlist of eleven books, drawn from 173 books, in the running for the 2016 literature prize.
A statement by Kudo Eresia-Eke, General Manager, External Relations of NLNG said that the short list, made up of entries from Nigerian writers at home and in diaspora,parades well-known writers as well as first time novelists. Chika Unigwe, winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2012 with her book On Black Sister’s Street and judge for the 2017 Manbooker Prize, is on the list with her entry Night Dancer published in 2014.Ogochukwu Promise, author of over fifteen novels, founder of Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa and two-time contender for The Nigeria Prize for Literature,is in with her book Sorrow’s Joy, as is Yejide Kilanko, a writer of poetry and fiction with her debut novel Daughters Who Walk This Path. Ifeoma Okoye, a writer and author of children’s literature got on the list with The Fourth World; Sefi Atta, author of the widely popular Everything Good Will Come with her entry A Bit of Difference; Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, writer and journalist with Season of Crimson Blossoms; and Ifeoluwa Adeniyi, a radio broadcaster with her debut novel On the Bank of the River. Others on the list include another past contender for The Nigeria Prize for Literature, Elnathan John with his novel, Born On A Tuesday; Aramide Segun, winner of an Association of Nigerian Authors Prose Prize for her debut book The Third Dimple with her novel Eniitan Daughter of Destiny; Maryam Awaisu, radio presenter with her first novel Burning Bright and Mansim Chumah Okafor, author of two previous books of fiction with The Parable of the Lost Shepherds.
The list was presented by the chairman, panel of judges for this year’s prize, Prof. Dan Izevbaye, well-respected literary critic and a professor of English Language at Bowen University, Iwo. Other members of the panel of judges include Professor Asabe Usman Kabir, Professor of Oral and African Literatures at Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto and Professor Isidore Diala, a professor of African Literature at Imo State University, Owerri and first winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism.
As in the past, the contest for Africa’s most prestigious literature prize promises to be keen.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature has, since 2004, rewarded eminent writers such as Gabriel Okara (co-winner, 2004, poetry), Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto (co-winner, 2004, poetry) for The Dreamer, His Vision; Ahmed Yerima (2005, drama) for his play, Hard Ground; Mabel Segun (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) for her collection of short plays Reader’s Theatre; Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) for her book, My Cousin Sammy; Kaine Agary (2008, prose) for her book Yellow Yellow; Esiaba Irobi (2010, drama) who clinched the prize posthumously with his book Cemetery Road; Adeleke Adeyemi (2011, children’s literature) with his book The Missing Clock; Chika Unigwe (2012, prose), with her novel, On Black Sisters Street; Tade Ipadeola (2013, poetry) with his collection of poems, The Sahara Testaments and Professor Sam Ukala (2014, drama) with his play, Iredi War.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly among four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. The 2016 prize is for prose fiction and comes with a cash award of $100, 000. Next year’s genre will be poetry.
Nigeria LNG Limited remains committed to responsible corporate citizenship and The Nigeria Prize for Literature is one of its numerous contributions towards building a better Nigeria.
A shortlist of three is expected in September and a winner, if any, will be announced by the Advisory Board in October.