Nigerian Shortlisted for 2012 Commonwealth Writers Prize

Nigerian Shortlisted for 2012 Commonwealth Writers Prize

Compared to previous years and previous years shortlists, this latest commonwealth shortlist for both the story prize and the book prize is a slap in the face of Nigerians. I really don’t want to believe the writing quality in Nigeria is diminishing. There are at least two creative writing classes holding annually in Nigeria, and they are led by award winning writers from Nigeria and around the world. So what is going on? From the press release…

Commonwealth Writers has announced shortlists for the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Writers from around the world have been shortlisted for each prize in anticipation of becoming a regional winner on 22 May and ultimately competing for overall winner which will be announced at Hay Festival on 8 June. A regional winner for each prize will be awarded in five regions: Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific.

Commenting on the shortlisted entries, chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Margaret Busby said, “Being a prize for first novels, the judges were looking for potential and promise from the entries. We certainly found what we were hoping for with some consummately accomplished writing from some very interesting writers.”

Chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Bernardine Evaristo said, “The high quality and variety of international stories on this shortlist is fantastic…If it looks as if some countries dominate in their regions this year (South Africa, New Zealand, India, Jamaica, the UK), it is because that is where we found the strongest work…”

I refuse to believe there weren’t more than one accomplished work from Nigeria, I know I’ve read some inspiring stories from people I believe entered. Could it be that after being harangued by Ikhide so many times, more of Nigeria’s writers are not writing to the test of Prizes? Well, I wish Jekwu Anyaegbuna all the best come May, and finally June. Let me go and dig up my own entry somewhere…We really should set up our own Prizes.



Commonwealth Book Prize

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 Hotel, 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

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 Sentimentalists, Johanna Skibsrud (Canada), William Heinemann

The Dubious Salvation of Jack V, Jacques Strauss (South Africa), Jonathan Cape

Me and Mr Booker, Cory Taylor (Australia), The Text Publishing Company

Pao, Kerry Young (UK), Bloomsbury


Commonwealth Short Story Prize

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)

Glory, Janice Lynn Mather (The Bahamas)

The Dolphin Catcher, Diane McCauley (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)

22 thoughts on “Nigerian Shortlisted for 2012 Commonwealth Writers Prize” by Myne (@Myne)

  1. We really do need our own awards, it’s about time someone took up that initiative……in fact, *off to my thinking room*

  2. I wont exactly blame Ikhide. Perhaps our writings didnt meet up with the other entries.
    When is the next commonwealth prize? They will be hearing from me.

  3. I go soon publish my own entry. In fact, @Myne, I think U should make it like a day when all the NS members who submitted entries can have theirs posted here, so that everyone can see them.

    1. Some people may not want to publish theirs, could be used in another contest or something. In any case, I doubt there’s any fraud, I just think the judges may be looking for some particular themes and stories. Maybe it’s just me.

      1. I agree with @Myne…about particular stories being looked for; but I think it’s only fair especially if it will matter on such a large scale to let people know what you want – or at least give them an idea.

        Anyhow though…I feel like I can expand my story into a short novel now and publish it.

        Hehehehehehehehe! Good news!

  4. @kaycee, I beg to disagree with the opinion that ALL others didn’t meet up. I’ll wait to see d subjects of these stories. I hope I won’t be proved right…

    1. You have to beg?
      Only one Naija shortlisted. It means, perhaps, other writers are either catching up with the Nigerian creativity or that the naija entries were not better than the others.
      i dont think there was any foul play

      1. @kaycee

        I agree with @raymond. I know for a fact that there were/are some bad-ass stories in there. They just weren’t what they were looking for.

        I don’t think there was any foul play either.

  5. I’m with you @Myne, I wish Jekwu Anyaegbuna all the best! Really hope a Nigerian wins something this time. Literary prizes haven’t been showing us a lot of love lately….

  6. Looking at the list of publishers like (penguin, harpercollins)for some of the short listed stories, just thinking maybe publishing standards had a role to play.

  7. I meant short listed books.

  8. I’m not surprised South Africa dominated in Africa. Just type african short fiction on google and you’ll be amazed at the number of South African opportunities that come up including plenty creative writing workshops. Perhaps some people have exercised their writing muscles more.
    Of course they’ll be looking for certain themes and would favour literary works.
    Can’t wait to read the winning entries.

  9. Wishing our REP the best of luck.

  10. This is a short list. I will be waiting for my name to come out in the supplementary list….

  11. Yes, I was just noting this development on my Facebook Group yesterday. Not only was there only one Nigerian, but the other 4 African contenders are all South Africans!

    What does this say?

  12. @Myne it is a very simple matter that requires no quarreling.Let’s simply have our own awards with plenty of writing workshops.Perhaps much more effort needs to be invested .Perhaps,we arent doing somethings just right, perhaps.

  13. I think we should accept that writing in Nigeria is not at par with international quality.Teju Cole is successful,Adiche’s book is going to be turned in to a film. What do they have in common,they live abroad.Nigerian’s can write but writing is like any other job.Apart from creativity you need to know the rules and regulations.We don’t have creative writing courses in our University.We have a long way to go.When you look at the past winners of both Caine and commonwealth you realize that most of the stories are really sad.e.g Olufemi Terry’s STICKFIGHTING DAYS is about children fighting to the death.Hitting Budapest is also Sad.Correct me if I’m wrong but I feel the world wants to hear sad and painful stories with a thin glimmer of hope.If your entry was happy ,funny or romantic it will be very difficult to win.

    1. You hit the nail on the head.

  14. Hasta la vista baby!

  15. I believe they wanted some story with their taste, like theme, time setting, relevance etc. Many young Writers in Nigeria studied creative writing on their own, our universities don’t place importance on this art. Maybe this is a wake-up call for all those it concerns. But I believe Nigerians will own the subsequent editions, because boys are angry!

  16. Watch out 4 me, ladies and gentlemen.Next year, there would not be this type of outbursts on NS! I’m d next overall winner of this prize. #serious face#

  17. I think as Nigerians we can do more for ourselves than what others can do for us, it really is time for more literary prize awards to be established for Nigerians by Nigerians.

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