By Evelyn Osagie
An Associate Editor with The Nation, Olukorede Yishau, and 10 others have made the longlist for this year’s $100,000-worth Nigeria Prize for Literature.
Yishau, a multiple award-winning journalist and a past winner of the Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) Columnist of the Year, is nominated for his first novel, ‘In The Name of Our Father.’
The book has been used for graduate and undergraduate theses by Nigerian students.
The prize has been sponsored by the Nigeria Liquified natural Gas Limited and has run since 2004.
NLNG’s General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, Eyono Fatayi-Williams, in a statement yesterday, said the Advisory Board for The Nigeria Prize for Literature announced the list of 11 drawn from 202 books in the running for the 2021 edition of the prize.
Aside Yishau, others in contention for Africa’s biggest reward for creative excellence are Obianuju V. Chukwuorji (Delusion of Patriots), Samuel Monye (Give Us Each Day), Anaele Ihuoma (Imminent River), Tony Nwaka (Mountain of Yesterday), Lucy Chiamaka Okwuma (Neglected), Obinna Udenwa (The Colours of Hatred), Abi Dare (The Girl with The Louding Voice), Chukwudi Eze (The Return of Half-Something), Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia (The Son of The House), and Law Ikay Ezeh (Your Church My Shrine).
The list was presented by the Chairman, Panel of Judges for this year’s prize, Prof. Toyin Jegede, who is a professor of Literature in English at the University of Ibadan.
The other judges are Prof. Tanimu Abubakar and Dr Solomon Azumurana. Professor Abubakar is a Professor of Literature in the Faculty of Arts, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Dr Azumurana is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Lagos.
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 stated that there has been a visible improvement in writing skills and commended NLNG for giving writers the platform to blossom and experiment.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly among four literary categories – prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s literature. A shortlist of three is expected in September and the winner is expected to be announced by the Advisory Board in October.
The Chairperson of the prize’s Advisory Board, Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, said the Board unanimously agreed that the list of 11 was excellent.
She expressed her appreciation to the judges for a thorough job in selecting the longlist. She added 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 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.