Of Awards, Protests and Book Clubs: Flying from Sweden to Nigeria

Over the week, two prestigious literary awards were announced, the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Booker Prize, and both were won by women whose initials were coincidentally identical. The Nobel Prize in Literature was won by Herta Muller, a German Romanian. Her choice has caused a stir in the literary circles as people are perceiving the awards to be too Eurocentric judging from the fact that the last time an American won it was in 1993 and Asians hardly ever win. On the other Hilary Mantel has won the Booker Prize for her novel Wolf Hall, which had J.M. Coetzee's Summertime in the shortlist. This award has been accepted by all and none has as yet complained.

You can read also read about these at here and there...

Whilst I have consistently insisted on the abundance of literary talents in Nigeria, the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Awards for Literature held this Saturday October 10, 2009, saw no winner. The reason? According to the organisers of the awards none of the entries was worthy enough to have been awarded. Funny huh? However, there was a long-list and a short-list of entries. The annual literary award which rotates among the three genres of literature: Prose, Poem and Drama, was to have gone for poetry this year.

Why was there a long list and a short list if none of the entries meet the criteria?
Which criteria were used to obtain the long list and short list?
Was it political?
Was it an intentional humiliation?

Read about it here...

On the other hand Chimamanda's Half of a Yellow Sun has been chosen by the Guardian Book Club as the book of month. There is an article by John Mullan about the book here...

So whilst there is no winner for the NLNG awards worth US$ 50,000 a Nigerian novel, set in Nigeria and written by a Nigerian had been selected by the guardian as their book of the month.


  1. Thanks for linking to my blog! I had not noticed that the Booker Prize winner and the Nobel Prize laureate have the same initials, what a coincidence!

    It's such a shame that there was no winner for the NLNG award. The whole thing sounds a bit fishy to me, as well. However, sometimes the same thing happens in Italy when no book is good enough (even though there were some finalists). It has been happening for two years with the Viareggio Prize in the category "First Book".

    If currently there are a few writers (like Adichie) who gained an international reputation, it doesn't automatically mean that there are many others. I don't know if this is the case of Nigeria, but Italy in this period isn't producing outstanding novels, especially no exceptianal first books.

  2. Thanks Stefania. I got some information from you and I need to show appreciation in recognising it. There shouldn't be any academic dishonesty here. lol.

    Hmm with respect to the failed awards I also think there is something fishy though it is possible. The fact is the work should revolved around the environment and judging from the way writers are mostly environmentalist and the devastation the oil companies are causing in the Niger Delta of Nigeria...well only God knows.

    Yes I agree. The fact that Adichie is making it doesn't really mean there are a lot of good writers. You know I am finding it more difficult to get good reading material by Africans? So you can see that I am gradually breaking my own rules but I hope not for long. I want to read something by Wole Soyink and Nadine Godimer but they are not available in the bookshops; in fact in the bookshop. There are not enough bookshops here in Accra and only about two or three sell novels including African writers. The rest sell text books, writing pads, exercise books and other stationery. Hmm! I hope to establish a publishing company...

  3. I didn't know about the environmentalist side of this prize. Actually I didn't know of this prize at all before you mentioned it. I hope more African writers will surface and make their voices heard.

    It's such a pity that bookshops in Accra don't sell novels by African writers. Africans are the enemies of the development of their own literature! Writers like Nadine Gordimer or Wole Soyinka should be available everywhere in Africa. It's difficult to find Sowyinka in Italy as well. You can find some African writers' books as free e-books in this web site but they are awfully uncomfortable to read: www.truly-free.org

  4. thanks for the link. I would see what would come out of it. I don't get enough time so I virtually steal time to read and write my reviews. Hence, if the book is not in a format that is easy to carry it becomes almost impossible. I would check it out.

  5. nana:this year is for poetry not prose for the nlng prize that why chimamanda and co are not eligible.

    you can find any book you are looking for in amazon,so you can order.

    the nlng prize is a sham and they are playing polictics with it.

  6. Yes, I knew it was for poetry but I still wonder if there aren't enough poets in Nigeria. I brought in Adichie's work to show that Nigeria still abounds in talent. I don't understand it.

    Yes...Amazon is good but it is only good for those who are able to order over the internet with a credit card. I have no such card hence I have to depend on my local bookshops for books.

    Is it? I have never understood why the NLNG couldn't be awarded...hmmm


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