Jude Idada wins Nigeria prize for literature
• Obioma, Evaristo, Wait For Booker Announcement
For Jude Idada, luck finally shone on him on Friday as he was named the 2019 winner of the Nigeria Prize for Literature, sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited, for the cycle on Children’s Literature.
Idada’s Boom Boom edged out Mysteries at Ebenezer’s Lodge by Dunni Olatunde and The Great Walls of Benin by O.T. Begho to clinch the prize. The book had competed against 173 books submitted for the competition in March 2019.
The announcement was made at NLNG’s 20-30 Anniversary Ball and Award Night in Abuja by Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, Chairman of the Advisory Board. The event was to commemorate NLNG’s 30 years anniversary of incorporation, 20 years of safe and reliable production and delivery of LNG from its six-train plant on Bonny Island and 15 years of sponsoring the Nigeria Prize for Literature.
Idada, who had been long-listed twice before his eventual success, told The Guardian in an earlier interview that he writes about what interests him. “If it wins an award, fine. If not, all good. The readership and assimilation of the message and theme is what is most important. I’m an artist through and through. For me, awards are more for publicity and readership — Just to get people to know more about the title or book or theme or subject etc.”
He added, “I was chatting with some young writers and I discovered that they were conditioned by award-winning mindset. It’s a plague. If something or someone hasn’t won an award, they don’t give them any attention.”
Also at the event, Professor Meihong Wang and Dr. Mathew Aneke were awarded $100,000 as joint-winners of The Nigeria Prize for Science for Year 2019. Wang and Aneke were announced as winners in September 2019 by the prize’s Advisory Board for their work on Carbon Capture, Carbon Utilization, and Biomass Gasification and Energy Storage for Power Generation.
Speaking during his welcome address, Tony Attah, NLNG’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, said the management and staff of NLNG, inspired by the Company’s vision of being a global LNG company, maintained international best practices in operations and safely & reliably delivered LNG cargoes around the world without harm to humans or the environment to earn a prominent place in the global market.
On the prizes, Attah remarked that the company was also celebrating 15 years of successful administration of the Science and Literature prizes, saying, “these past years has been an arduous journey but most definitely very fulfilling for us and I believe for the country as well. I say so unequivocally because thanks to the prizes, our nation now boasts of scientific breakthroughs and famous works on poetry, prose, drama and children’s literature that have earned the prizes a reputation as the most prestigious prizes in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Meanwhile, tomorrow, the latest winner of Booker Prize will be announced. It’s one of the most important literary prizes in the English language. First awarded in 1969, the £50,000 prize is open to writers of any nationality, writing in English and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland.
After two years in which no African authors were chosen for the longlist, this year two Nigerian authors were selected for the 13-book longlist in July: Oyinkan Braithwaite, for My Sister, The Serial Killer, and Chigozie Obioma, for An Orchestra of Minorities, as was Bernardine Evaristo, whose work explores the African diaspora and her Nigerian heritage.
The 33-year-old Nigerian writer, Obioma, brings to an end a four-year barren patch where no African author appeared on the shortlist, and Turkish-born Elif Shafak has been shortlisted for a novel written in her second language. This is also Margaret Atwood’s sixth shortlisting, Rushdie’s fifth and Obioma’s second. Obioma’s debut, The Fishermen, was shortlisted for the 2015 edition of the award. The novel is described by judge Afua Hirsch as ‘a book that wrenches the heart’.
Narrated by a chi (a guardian spirit in Igbo cosmology), the novel tells the romantic yet tragicomic tale of a Nigerian chicken farmer, Chinoso, whose love for a wealthier woman makes him fall victim to a European education scam.
Evaristo, one of the UK’s most celebrated black women authors’ latest novel, Girl, Woman, Other is a witty, complex and dynamic exploration of 12 black British women, whose lives are interconnected in various ways. Written in a style that seamlessly blends prose with poetry, this novel has been praised for its poignant dealing of issues concerning feminism and race. Speaking of her writing, Evaristo has previously said that she aims to ‘explore the hidden narratives of the African diaspora’ and ‘subvert expectations and assumptions’.
Chair of Judges, Peter Florence, said of the shortlist: “Like all great literature, these books teem with life, with a profound and celebratory humanity.”For three weeks now, the nominees have been engaged in a series of reading and chat sessions about their themes and writing process.
On October 11, three of the shortlisted authors attended the Manchester Literature Festival for an evening of readings and discussions around their new novels. Five of the six shortlistees also appeared at the Cheltenham Literary Festival the next day, with the prize director Gaby Wood, talking about Booker Prize.
Evaristo was also in the running for the Gordon Burn Prize, which was won by David Keenan for his recreation of 1970s Belfast and the Troubles, For the Good Times.
Keenan’s book was praised for its “almost hallucinatory feel, recreating the undocumented lives, the murders that took place, the families that were bereaved. It was chosen from a six-strong shortlist that also featured Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Max Porter’s Lanny, The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker and This Brutal House by Niven Govinden.
As David Sexton, a Booker Prize judge in 2005, noted, at least, the presence of four women on both the shortlist and the judging panel meant that: “The patriarchal tyranny so alarmingly envisaged by Atwood is faltering here at least!” It was a particularly good week for Atwood, who was also named on the shortlist for Canada’s pre-eminent literary award, the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Atwood previously won The Booker Prize in 2000 for The Blind Assassin, so it will be her second win if she goes on to take the Award.
If Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport goes on to win, it will be the longest winning novel since Eleanor Catton’s 2013 winner The Luminaries. While Ellmann’s book is told in a one-sentence monologue, Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is told in free verse.
The shortlist was chosen from 151 submitted books by a panel of five judges: founder and director of Hay Festival Peter Florence (Chair); former fiction publisher and editor Liz Calder; novelist, essayist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo; writer, broadcaster and former barrister Afua Hirsch; and concert pianist, conductor and composer Joanna MacGregor.
The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 (about R43,000) and a specially bound edition of their book.The Booker Prize is known for its commercial boost. In the week following the announcement of last year’s winner, Milkman by Anna Burns, sales of the book increased by 880 per cent, from 963 in the week prior to the announcement to 9,446 in the week following, and then by a further 99 per cent (9,446 to 18,786) the following week.
Milkman is now sold in nearly 40 languages, both in Europe and throughout Asia. The total number of copies of Milkman sold, across all formats, is currently 546,500, and Burns is in the process of negotiating a film deal.
The prize was the subject of controversy on several occasions, and in 1984,Salman Rushdie, the winner of the prize in 1981 for his novel, Midnight’s Children, described the judging committee as “Killjoyces” and “Anti-Prousts” after the committee chairman stated that he had not read the fiction of James Joyce and Marcel Proust and did not want to award the prize to writers like them. (Rushdie won the Booker of Bookers  and the Best of the Booker  prizes when they were given in celebration of the prize’s 25th and 40th anniversaries, respectively.) The award was administered by the Book Trust until 2002, when oversight passed to the Man Group PLC, an investment management firm.
Well-known recipients of the prize include V.S. Naipaul, Nadine Gordimer, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Iris Murdoch, J.M. Coetzee, A.S. Byatt, Kingsley Amis, Penelope Lively, Ben Okri, Michael Ondaatje, Ian McEwan, Peter Carey, Kiran Desai, and Hilary Mantel.
No comments yet