Women writers dominate shortlist of $100,000 literature prize
Nigerian female writers have continued their impressive run in the country’s and global literary field with several signals that they have more surprises to spring. Buttressing this is the shortlist of the Nigeria Prize for Literature on which there are eight female writers and three males.
Many would say it is too early to celebrate any writer or gender on a rather long list of 11 people. Yet, others will be tickled by the huge female presence, with some of the country’s best tender writers standing tall on the list released by the Nigeria LNG-sponsored Advisory Board for The Nigeria Prize for Literature, led by Emeritus Prof. Ayo Banjo. Indeed, some of them have won major awards home and abroad.
The list parades Chika Unigwe, winner of the prize in 2012 (with her book On Black Sister’s Street), now coming back with Night Dancer, published in 2014. Another multiple award winner there is Ogochukwu Promise, author of over 15 novels, who is also the founder of the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. Interestingly, Ogochukwu is also a two-time contender for The Nigeria Prize for Literature and is now in the race with her book, Sorrow’s Joy.
Other female writers on the list are Yejide Kilanko, a writer of poetry and fiction with her debut novel, Daughters Who Walk This Path; Ifeoma Okoye, author of children’s literature, now contending with The Fourth World; Sefi Atta, author of the widely popular Everything Good Will Come, with her A Bit of Difference; Ifeoluwa Adeniyi, a radio broadcaster with On the Bank of the River; 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; and Maryam Awaisu, also a radio presenter, in the race with her first novel, Burning Bright.
The three strong men among the amazons are Abubakar Ibrahim, writer and journalist contending with Season of Crimson Blossoms; Elnathan John, Born On A Tuesday; and Mansim Okafor, The Parable of the Lost Shepherds.
According to the General Manager, External Relations of Nigeria LNG, Mr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, the list was presented by the chairman, panel of judges for this year’s prize, Dan Izevbaye, an acclaimed literary critic and a professor of English Language at the Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State. Other members of the panel include Prof. Asabe Kabir, Professor of Oral and African Literatures at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, and Isidore Diala, a professor of African Literature at Imo State University, Owerri and first winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism.
Saying the long list came out of 173 entries, Kudo Eresia-Eke says, “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); Prof. 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; Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) for her book, My Cousin Sammy.”
Story By Akeem Lasisi