By Adedapo Adesanya
Author Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is the recipient of the NLNG Literature Prize of $ 100,000 for 2021.
Ms. Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s novel, The son of the houseThe winner was announced at a ceremony held on Saturday night as she beat other shortlisted in a list of 11 men.
The Advisory Board announced in July the preselection of 11 books among 202 books competing for the 2021 edition of the prize.
The 11 books on the shortlist, in alphabetical order of book title were:
1. The Patriots’ Illusion, Obianuju V. Chukwuorji
2. Give us every day, Samuel Monye
3. River imminent, Anaele Ihuoma
4. In the name of our father, Olukorede S. Yishau
5. Yesterday’s mountain, Tony Nwaka
6. Neglected, Lucy Chiamaka Okwuma
7. The Colors of Hate, Obinna Udenwa
8. The girl with the loud voice, Abi Dare
9. The Return of Half a Thing, Chukwudi Eze
10. The son of the house, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia
11. Your church, my sanctuary, Law Ikay Ezeh.
The list was presented by the chairman of the jury for this year’s Nigerian Literature Prize, Professor Toyin Jegede, who is Professor of English Literature at the University of Ibadan.
The other judges were Professor Tanimu Abubakar and Doctor Solomon Azumurana. Prof. Abubakar is Professor of Literature at the Faculty of Arts at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. Dr Azumurana is Senior Lecturer in the English Department at the University of Lagos.
The judges described the shortlist as new approaches to examining issues, using new and exciting storytelling strategies, techniques, and well-written organic storylines to present topical discussions in a realistic manner.
The judges said there had been a visible improvement in writing skills and praised Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) for giving writers the platform to flourish and experiment.
According to the chairman of the award’s advisory board, Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, the board unanimously agreed that the shortlist of 11 was a great list.
She expressed her appreciation to the judges for their painstaking work in selecting the shortlist. She said excellence was the watchword of the award, adding that it was up to the advisory board to continue the tradition entrusted to it by the old board.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature has been awarded since 2004 to eminent writers such as Gabriel Okara (co-winner, 2005, poetry) for The Dreamer, His Vision; Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto, for his poetry volume, Chants of a Minstrel (co-winner, 2005, poetry); Ahmed Yerima (2005, drama) for his classic Hard Ground; Mabel Segun (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) for her collection of short plays Reader’s Theater; Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) with her book, My Cousin Sammy; Kaine Agary with his book Yellow Yellow (2008, prose); Esiaba Irobi (2010, drama) who won the award posthumously with her book Cemetery Road; Adeleke Adeyemi (2011, children’s literature) with her book The Missing Clock; Chika Unigwe (2012, prose), with her novel, On Black Sister’s Street; Tade Ipadeola (2013, poetry) with his collection of poems, Les Testaments du Sahara; Professor Sam Ukala (2014, drama) with his play Iredi War; Abubakar Adam Ibrahim with his novel Season of Crimson Blossoms (2016, prose); Ikeogu Oke with his collection of poetry, The Heresiad; (2017, poetry); Soji Cole with his play Embers (2018, drama); and Jude Idada with his book Boom, Boom (2019, Children’s Literature).
The Nigeria Prize for Literature runs alongside the Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism (also sponsored by NLNG), for which four nominations were received in 2020. The Literary Criticism Prize has a monetary value of N1 million.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates annually between four literary categories – prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature.
A preselection of three is expected in September. A winner, if any, will be announced by the Advisory Board in October.