Commonwealth Book Prize shortlist came out last week with fairly dismal showing by Nigerian writers. Apart from the Short Story category where Nigeria’s Jekwu Anyaegbuna’s Morrison Okoli (1955-2010) made the list, no Nigerian writer made it in the book category.
Creative Alliance, organisers of Literary Star Search, the grassroots literary short story contest with the ONE MILLION star prize money, regards this development as a setback in Nigerian writers’ march in recent years as dominant players in Africa’s literary scene. South Africa and Zambia are the only African countries to make the book shortlist, with India, U.K., Australia and Canada dominating.
The book shortlist include The Wandering Falcon, Jamil Ahmad (Pakistan), Hamish Hamilton, Patchwork, Ellen Banda-Aaku (Zambia), Penguin Books, South Africa, Rebirth: a novel, Jahnavi Barua (India), Penguin Books India, The Sly Company of People Who Care, Rahul Bhattacharya (India) Picador, The Ottoman Motel, Christopher Currie (Australia), The Text Publishing Company, A Cupboard Full of Coats, Yvvette Edwards (UK), Oneworld Publications, The Book of Answers, CY Gopinath (India), HarperCollins India, Jubilee, Shelley Harris (South Africa), Weidenfeld & Nicolson, The Dancing and the Death on Lemon Street, Denis Hirson (UK), Jacana Media, The Vanishing Act, Mette Jakobsen (Australia), The Text Publishing Company.
Others are Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew, Shehan Karunatilaka (Sri Lanka), Random House India, Purple Threads, Jeanine Leane (Australia), University of Queensland Press, Sweetheart, Alecia McKenzie (Jamaica), Peepal Tree Press, The Town that Drowned, Riel Nason (Canada), Goose Lane Editions, Dancing Lessons, Olive Senior (Canada), Cormorant Books, The Dubious Salvation of Jack V, Jacques Strauss (South Africa), Jonathan Cape, Me and Mr. Booker, Cory Taylor (Australia), The Text Publishing Company, and Pao, Kerry Young (UK), Bloomsbury.
The Short Story shortlist include Morrison Okoli (1955-2010), Jekwu Anyaegbuna (Nigeria), Flight, Jayne Bauling (South Africa), The Queen’s Blessing, Edyth Bulbring (South Africa), Devil Star, Hazel Campbell (Jamaica), Brothers, Adrienne Frater (New Zealand), Like a Heart Maybe, but Cold, Chris Hill (UK), The False River, Nick Holdstock (UK), Radio Story, Anushka Jasraj (India), Rush, Nic Low (Australia), Elbow, Khadija Magardie (South Africa), Two Girls in a Boat, Emma Martin (New Zealand).
Other are Glory, Janice Lynn Mather (The Bahamas), The Dolphin Catcher, Diana McCaulay (Jamaica), Friends, Sharon Millar (Trinidad and Tobago), The Ghost Marriage, Andrea Mullaney (UK), If These Walls had Ears, Carl Nixon (New Zealand), Next Full Moon We’ll Release Juno Bridget Pitt (South Africa), The Crane, Sarah Quigley (New Zealand), Drums, Mahesh Rao (UK), Ammulu, Poile Sengupta (India), Another Dull Day, Sreejith Sukumaran (India).
In the light of this development, spokesman for Literary Star Search, Mr. Seun Jegede, has called on writers to seize the opportunity of the May 31st deadline extension to submit their entries for the contest so as to be part of the huge promotional package at international level that also attends the contest. It would be recalled that a collection, Stories Nigeriana, will be published, and deserving stories will be entered in contests worldwide. Jegede has, therefore, tasked writers to visit www.creativeallianceng.com for further information on how to enter for the prize.
However, a consolation came the way of Nigeria with Rotimi Babatunde making the shortlist for The Caine Prize, with his entry, ‘Bombay's Republic’ first published in Mirabilia Review Vol. 3.9 (Lagos, 2011). With Babatubde being shortlisted in The Caine Prize, Jegede said Nigeria was sure of making impact. Also, internationally acclaimed Nigeria’s Ben Okri, author of The Famished Road, winner of The Booker Prize, is the new Vice President of the prize. Chair of judges is Bernardine Evaristo;
Kenyan’s Billy Kahora with ‘Urban Zoning’, Malawi’s Stanley Kenani with ‘Love on Trial’ Zimbabwe’s Melissa Tandiwe with ‘La Salle de Depart’ and South Africa’s Constance Myburgh with ‘Hunter Emmanuel’ are the other shortlisted writers for the 2012 prize. Last year Zimbabwe’s female writer, NoViolet Bulawayo won the prize with her ‘Hitting Budapest’.