By Japhet Alakam
THE race for the eventual winner of the US$100,000 prize for The 2019 Nigeria Prize for Literature and The Literary Criticism Prize has started. This follows the formal announcement of call for entries by the The Advisory Board for the prizes comprising Emeritus Professors Ayo Banjo and Ben Elugbe in addition to Professor Jerry Agada, requesting writers to submit their entries. The yearly literary prize is endowed by Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, Limited to honour the author of the best book by a Nigerian within the last four years.
The Literature Prize now in its 15th year comes with a money prize of $100,000 whereas the Literary Criticism Prize has N1 million as reward.
The prize rotates among four literary genres – prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. This year is for children’s literature and as expected, the Nigeria Prize for Literature 2019 will be looking for entries for this year’s edition in children’s literature. The organisers have also included a new category for literary criticism.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature is the richest prize in African literature worth US$100,000 to the winner. The prize which was founded in 2004 to honor literary erudition by Nigerian authors rotates among four genres, repeating the cycle every four years.
The Literary Criticism Award
This year, the prize has upped the ante as it seeks entries for literary criticism as well. As the aim is to promote Nigerian literature all over the world, this prize is open to all critics wherever they may come from. Contestants will send in three critical essays published in majorly scholarly journals with a track record of dedication to excellence and an international circulation.
The winner of this prize will go home with 1,000,000 Naira.
Just like with the drama prize, all entries must be made by April 5, 2019 and winners will be announced in October and will be presented to the public on a later date.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature has since 2004 rewarded eminent writers such as Gabriel Okara (co-winner, 2004, poetry), Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto (co-winner, 2004, poetry) for The Dreamer, His Vision; Ahmed Yerima (2005, drama) for his play, 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) for her book, My Cousin Sammy; Kaine Agary (2008, prose) for her book, Yellow Yellow; 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 Sisters Street; Tade Ipadeola (2013, poetry) with his collection of poems, The Sahara Testaments; Professor Sam Ukala (2014, drama) with his play, Iredi War; Seasons of Crimson Blossom, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (2016, prose); The Heresiad, Ikeogu Oke (2017, poetry) and Embers, Soji Cole (2018, drama).