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 Interest in literature soars with 163 entries for Nigeria Prize for Literature 2024

 Interest in literature soars with 163 entries for Nigeria Prize for Literature 2024

The Nigerian literary circle has received major boost with the increase in entries for the 2024 Nigeria Prize for Literature and Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism.

While the Nigeria Prize for Literature (Children’s Literature) received one hundred and sixty-three (163) entries for the 2024 edition, the Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism received 24 entries.

Both prizes, which are sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG), received 143 entries for the 2023 edition against 89 entries in the last Drama cycle in 2018 and 13 entries for The Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism.

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This was revealed today at a ceremony in Lagos to hand over the entries to judges for the commencement of the adjudication process.

NLNG, represented by Andy Odeh, general manager for External Relations and Sustainable Development, handed over the entries to Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, a professor and chair of the Prize’s Advisory Board, who in turn, handed over the entries to the judges.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Odeh lauded the achievements that have been recorded by Nigerian writers in the past 20 years of running the Prize.

“This handover of entries is a celebration of the commitment and hard work put forth by every participant. It is a reminder of the importance of fostering a culture that encourages innovation, critical thinking, and artistic expression. It is also an opportunity for us to recognize the dedication and support of those who have mentored and guided these individuals, providing them with the resources and inspiration to achieve greatness,” he said.

The Prize rotates yearly across four literary categories: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature.

The Advisory Board also handed over 24 entries for The Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism.

The Literature Prize, which is now in its 20th year, has a cash prize of $100, 000 while the Literary Criticism Prize has a prize money of $10,000. Saleh Abdu, a professor, chairs the panel of judges for this year’s Literature Prize and the Literary Criticism competition. Abdu is an English professor at the Federal University of Kashere, Gombe State. He has taught courses mostly in Literature at various levels. He also served at Bayero University Kano and Federal University of Kashere, Gombe State, as Head of Department (HOD), Faculty Sub-Dean, Dean of Faculty, Chair of Senate, Management and Council Committees. He has authored and co-authored several books, including his Poet of the People’s Republic: Reading the Poetry of Niyi Osundare (2003).

Other panel members include; Vicky Sylvester, a professor, and Igudia Osarobu, a PhD holder. Sylvester is a writer who has been teaching at the Department of English, University of Abuja. Her prolific writing career has produced numerous award-winning novels, poems, and academic works. Osarobu is a Doctor of Philosophy at the Department of Library Archival & Information Studies, University of Ibadan, Oyo State.

Christopher Okemwa, a professor and lecturer of Poetry and Drama at Kisii University, Kenya, serves as the International Consultant for the 2024 edition of the Prize. He has published over 10 children’s books, winning the 2015 Canadian Burt Award for African Literature (Kenya) with one of the books. He is the founder and director of KICHLA (Kistrech Children’s Literature Association) of Kenya.

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Past winners in the Children’s Literature genre include; Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (2007), author of the joint-winning book My Cousin Sammy; Mabel Segun (2007) with her book Readers’ Theatre: Twelve Plays for Young People; Mai Nasara (2011) who clinched the Prize with his book The Missing Clock; and Jude Idada (2019) with his book, Boom Boom.

Other members of the Advisory Board are; Olu Obafemi and Ahmed Yerima, who are both professors.

The Nigeria Prize for Literature is Africa’s most prestigious literary award, and the increase in entries for the children’s literature cycle highlights the growing interest in Nigerian Literature. With this year’s edition particularly competitive, the judges and Advisory Board have their work cut out to select a deserving winner.