Below is the final judge’s review of the Top 5 contest entries.
In judging the winner of this competition, I was looking for the following:
– Did it have a flowing, distinctive style?
– Was I convinced that the contestant had really been moved by the book, and
– Would I be persuaded to go out and find the book after reading the entry?
With that, here is how I have judged the entries:
Blazing Embers: I like that the contestant explained clearly why she liked the book of their choice (the feminist viewpoint it took, and how it provided an engaging narrative of two decades of Nigeria’s history). However, I didn’t come away feeling what she may have felt from reading the book; I felt that the description was too general. – 7.5
The hunter and the re-incarnated sea goddess: I liked this immediately because the contestant showed me through her eyes her first encounter with the book, and this made the experience very vivid for me. Also, I liked that she mentioned specific characters that she identified with, and what specifically she took away from reading the book that still stayed with her (“love should be all giving”). What is seriously missing for me here is how exactly this take-away has personally affected her life, and has made the book memorable for her to this day. – 8
The Death Of I: The contestant was clearly dramatically inspired by reading the book of their choice to take radical action against the authorities; this is indeed a testament to the power of the word. However, what for me is missing is what specific areas in the book stood out that moved the contestant. I feel that he spent way too much describing his personal circumstances so that in the end, I know very little about this book that inspired him. – 7.5
Decolonizing My Literary Mind: Again, like the previous entry, the contestant makes it very clear how the book has made a difference in her life, opening up her world to the works of many Nigerian literary greats. Unfortunately, she is not very specific; I would have loved to read exactly what passages, what characters, what scenes give an example of the “rhythm” that converted her from her previous way of thinking. – 8
I Loved Love Yet She Loved Me Not For Love Wasn’t: The contestant is very clear about how her views on romance have been changed by reading the book of her choice, from a fairytale view to a more tempered and realistic notion. I like also that she highlights how the characters – and their interactions with each other – have affected that world view; this makes me more curious about wanting to discover these characters in the book. So in spite of the somewhat stilted style, this is a great contribution. – 8.5