Cheluchi Beats 10 Others to Grab $100k NLNG Literature Prize

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By Adedapo Adesanya

Author Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is the winner of the $100,000 NLNG Literature Prize for 2021.

Ms Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s novel, The Son of the House, was announced the winner at a ceremony held on Saturday night, as she beat others shortlisted in an 11-man list.

The Advisory Board had in July announced the shortlist of 11 drawn from 202 books in the running for the 2021 edition of the prize.

The 11 books on the shortlist, in alphabetical order by the title of the book were:

1. Delusion of Patriots, Obianuju V. Chukwuorji

2. Give Us Each Day, Samuel Monye

3. Imminent River, Anaele Ihuoma

4. In The Name of Our Father, Olukorede S. Yishau

5. Mountain of Yesterday, Tony Nwaka

6. Neglected, Lucy Chiamaka Okwuma

7. The Colours of Hatred, Obinna Udenwa

8. The Girl with The Louding Voice, Abi Dare

9. The Return of Half- Something, Chukwudi Eze

10. The Son of The House, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia

11. Your Church My Shrine, Law Ikay Ezeh.

The list was presented by the Chairman, Panel of Judges for this year’s Nigeria Prize for Literature, Professor Toyin Jegede, who is a professor of Literature in English at the University of Ibadan.

The other judges were Professor Tanimu Abubakar and Dr Solomon Azumurana. Professor Abubakar is a Professor of Literature in the Faculty of Art, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Dr Azumurana is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Lagos.

The judges described the shortlist 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 Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) for giving writers the platform to blossom and experiment.

According to the Chairperson of the prize’s Advisory Board, Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, the board unanimously agreed that the shortlist of 11 was an excellent list.

She expressed her appreciation to the judges for a thorough job in selecting the shortlist. She stated 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 Nigeria Prize for Literature has since 2004 rewarded eminent writers such as Gabriel Okara (co-winner, 2005, poetry) for The Dreamer, His Vision; Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto, for his volume of poetry, 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 Theatre; Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) with her book, My Cousin Sammy; Kaine Agary with her book, Yellow Yellow (2008, prose); 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 Sister’s Street; Tade Ipadeola (2013, poetry) with his collection of poems, The Sahara Testaments; 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 Literature).

The Nigeria Prize for Literature 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.

The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary categories – prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s literature.

A shortlist of three is expected in September. A winner, if any, will be announced by the Advisory Board in October.

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