For members of the literary community, another dollar rain is imminent as the journey to the 2016 edition of the Nigeria Prize for Literature, sponsored by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company, begins with the submission of a total of 173 entries in the prose fiction category.
Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo, who chairs the Advisory Board for the $100, 000 literature prize, recently handed over the entries to a panel of judges led by Prof. Dan Izevbaye of Bowen University, Iwo at a meeting with journalists in Lagos.
Addressing the gathering, the General Manager, External Relations of the NLNG, Mr. Kudo Eresia-Eke, said the entries would be pruned by the panel of judges based on a number of considerations, including editorial excellence, creativity and plot and a final winner would be announced in October to coincide with the anniversary of the first shipment of liquefied natural gas by the company.
Reminding the judges about what the company had achieved with the literature prize since its inception, Eresia-Eke said, “We have established excellence and this we are known for. Judges have come and gone and they have outclassed one another by making sure that the winner is crowned based on merit and quality. You, as judges, will continue this tradition and extend the quality of this prize further.”
Belgium-based Nigerian writer, Chika Unigwe, was the last winner of the prize in the prose fiction category in 2012. She beat 213 authors to the prize with her novel titled On Black Sisters’ Street.
Unfortunately no winner was announced in last year’s edition of the prize. During a press conference held at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Ikeja, Lagos, the head of the panel of judges for the prize, Prof. Uwemedimo Iwoketok of the University of Jos, had said that out of 109 entries received for the 2015 prize, 89 which represented 81.6 per cent of the total number received, failed to meet the preliminary criteria for assessment.
However, it is expected that this year’s competition will produce a winner, considering the quality and number of the entries received. The contest will run concurrently with the NLNG prize for literary criticism for which only two entries were received. Introduced in 2013, the literary criticism prize is a yearly award and carries a monetary value of N1 million.