The Advisory Board of The Nigeria Prize for Literature, proudly sponsored by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) today, Friday August 27, 2021 announced the final shortlist of three for the yearly literature prize, which is currently the richest literary prize in Africa and one of the richest in the world at $100, 000.
The announcement followed the longlist of 11 books released recently out of 202 entries on prose fiction, received for the Prize. The Prize which rotates annually between the four genres of fiction, Poetry, Drama and Children’s literature, was established in 2004 and has had notable Nigerian authors as winners including Chika Unigwe, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Esiaba Irobi, Akachi Adimora Ezigbo, Ikeogu Oke and most recently, Jude Idada.
Obinna Udenwe, who is the co-founder of The Village Square Journal, is shortlisted for this year’s prize for his book, Colours of Hatred, which has been described as a story that cements the detective and literary form of fiction writing. Colours of Hatred is shortlisted alongside, The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe and The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare.
The announcement has generated a lot of buzz, with many commenting on the strength of the books on the shortlist. The judges have this to say about them:
“The three shortlisted novels revolve around strong female characters, different unravelling circumstances and experiences of women in the modern world.
‘The Son of the House’ is a profoundly unconventional novel that portrays the lives of two women in different worlds whose paths crossed during captivity. But they soon realised their path had earlier crossed at various points. The stories of Nwabulu, a one-time housemaid and now a successful fashion designer, and Julie, an educated woman who lived through tricks, deceits, and manipulations, are told through a mosaic plot structure against the backdrop of modernity and traditional patriarchy, poverty, and neglect.
‘The Girl with the Louding Voice’, tells the story of a girl-child from a first-person narrative mode. It unravels the plight of Adunni, a girl-child, who was forced out of poverty to marry at an early age to an elderly polygamous man. Her marriage to the man was for her to raise funds for her father’s survival. In essence, the novel also tackles the issue of early marriage, child sexual abuse, childlessness in marriage, and domestic violence, while at the same time, beaming the light on the urgent need for female bonding or sisterhood in transcending the constraints in the life of women.
The third novel in the shortlist of three is Colours of Hatred. This confessional tale centres on the protagonist, Leona of the Dinka tribe, who ended up killing her father-in-law. The novel is a thriller that explores love, hatred, war, revenge, oppression, extra-judicial killings, military rule, displacement, and exile with attendant tensions that leave lasting emotional scars through introspection and re-telling of the story “.
Born in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state, Nigeria in 1988, Obinna Udenwe is the author of the conspiracy crime thriller, Satans & Shatians, the controversial church erotica, Holy Sex and most recently the novel, Colours of Hatred. In 2020, Obinna Udenwe published a chapbook, The Brief Story of the New Love Software, published in Canada by 845 Press. He is regarded as one of the most prolific short story writers in Nigeria. His short stories have won the Prairie Schooner – Glenna Luschei Prize 2020 and The Short Story is Dead Prize 2016. His collection of short stories manuscript was a finalist in the Prairie Schooner-Raz Shumaker Prize 2020, and one of his stories titled, ‘It Has to do with Emilia’ was optioned for film and television in 2020 by Bridget Pickering at Bump Films. Obinna Udenwe edited the anthology, Voices from my Clan with Mukoma wa Ngugi in 2012 – which was a collection of stories from students he trained in a creative writing workshop as a young writer. In 2014, he was a guest at the Ebedi International Writers Residency, after which he initiated with Paul Liam, the Ebedi Journal, an in-house magazine of the Ebedi International Writers Residency, Nigeria, and has been the editor of the journal since then. Obinna Udenwe was in 2014, honoured with the Ebonyi State Literary Icon Award for his creative industry.