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‘Louding Voice’, ‘The Son’ and ‘Colours’, coast home to grab Nigeria’s top Literature Prize

Abi Dare’s The Girl with Louding Voice,   Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s The Son of the House and Obinna Udenwe’s Colours of Hatred are the three novels in the finals to the 2021 edition of the Nigeria Prize for Literature

The presentation of the final shortlist, which made it out of the 11 novels announced in July 2021, was made by the NPL’s advisory board on Friday, August 27, 2021. The initial 11 were themselves selected from 202 entries.

“All three novels centre on strong female characters, different unravelling circumstances and experiences of women in the modern world”, said Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, professor of English language and the chair of the Advisory Board,

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.

Colours of Hatred is a confessional tale, centred around the protagonist, Leona of the Dinka tribe, who ended up killing of 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 of the story.

The selection of the three novels was unanimous, the judges said. They will decide the winning novel, which will be announced in October 2021.

Olutoyin Jegede, a Professor of Literature in English at the University of Ibadan,  chairs the panel of judges which includes Tanimu Abubakar, Professor of Literature in the Faculty of Art, Ahmadu Bello University, and Solomon Azumurana (Ph.D), a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Lagos.

Abi Daré

The judges, in their report, described the novels as full of suspense and intrigue. 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.”

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia

The Advisory Board also announced the appointment of the International Consultant for this year’s prize, Tsitsi Dangarembga, an acclaimed Zimbabwean author. Her first novel, Nervous Conditions (1988), was hailed as one of the most important novels of the twentieth century and was included in the BBC’s 2018 list of the 100 books that shaped the world. Her novels, The Book of Not (2006) and This Mournable Body (2018) were longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020. Her plays have been performed at the University of Zimbabwe, and her short musical Kare Kare Zvako, (Mother’s Day, 2005) was screened at Sundance. Her films have also received international recognition.

Obinna Udenwe

The award will run concurrently with NLNG’s Prize for Literary Criticism. The literary criticism prize carries a monetary value of ₦1Million.

The Nigeria Prize for Literature, Africa’s most prestigious literary award, rotates yearly amongst four literary categories: prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s literature.

Culled from BookArtVille


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