Our first blog post this year looks back at 2013 and Nigerian literature. It was year in which Nigerians won notable literary awards and competitions, great authors died and new voices emerged.
The year began on a bright and promising note when in January, the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) established the Nigerian Writers Series for “the encouragement of the emergence of new talents, the reactivation of quality publishing and the provision of literary materials for a healthy national reading culture.”
The first great literary loss of the year happened in March. Soon after his publication of the famed There was a Country, Chinua Achebe, one of Africa’s most revered authors died on the 21st of March in Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America. Achebe was best known for his 1959 classic Things Fall Apart.
In April Wole Soyinka was announced as the recipient of the 78th Anisfield-Wolf Book Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation. Farafina Books released the Nigerian edition of the highly awaited novel,Americanah by ChimamandaAdichie.The 2nd Bayelsa Book and Craft Fair themed “Africa as one” held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
In May the University of Lagos hosted the Nigeria International Book Fair. The annual event is the biggest book fair in Africa and is organised by the Nigerian Book Fair Trust. As is customary every year Zaccheus Onumba Dibiaezue Memorial Libraries visited the Fair with a selection of Local Government Primary School Pupils. Nigeria’s E.Egya Sule won the 2013 Common Wealth Book Prize for Africa Region for Sterile Sky.
In June, Etisalat launched the first edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature in line with its vision of “promoting passions, nurturing talent and providing a platform for communicating ideas”. Teju Cole’s Open City won the 5th Annual International Literature Award – Haus der Kulturen der Welt,
Transparency International in August declared Nigeria’s Ugoh Wilson Emenike, the first prize winner in the Writing category of its “Youth Photo and Writing Competition”. The competition marked the organization’s 20th anniversary.
TadeIpadeola’s poetry collection The Sahara Testaments was declared the winner of the 2013 Nigeria Prize for Literature sponsored by the Nigeria LNG Ltd. The 2013 edition was for Poetry. The movie adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie‘s Orange Broadband award winning novel -Half of a Yellow Sun - premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
In October, two Nigerians, Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye and Tolu Ogunlesi, were announced as winners of the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the Year Awards in the Environment Category and the Economics and Biz category respectively. The Association of Nigerian Authors announced its 2013 prize winners.
The Nigerian literary scene was agog with literary festivals and book conventions for most of November. There was the Garden City Literary Festival in Port Harcourt the – 2014 UNESCO World Book Capital, Enugu’s Coal City Book Convention, Anambra Literary Creativity Festival, the Lagos Book and Arts Festival, and the Ake Book and Arts Festival. Chimamanda Adichie won the 2013 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for fiction for Americanah. Philip Begho’s The Princess with a Golden Voice and Fego Martins Ahia’s The Little Secret were shortlisted for the Golden Baobab Prize in the picture book category.The prize was eventually won by Liza Esterhuyse for The Little Hippo. Sadly, the month was darkened by the death of Festus Iyayi in a car accident. His best known book was Heroes, which won the 1988 Commonwealth Writers Prize.
In December the BBC listed Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah at the top of its 2013 best 10 books. Adichie was also listed on Foreign Policy’s Top Global thinkers of 2013. Pop Diva Beyoncé used a part of Chimamanda Adichie’s TEDxEuston talk, "We should all be feminists" in a track titled “flawless” from her 5thalbum. Okada books, Nigeria’s premiere mobile book app won the MTN App Developer Challenge.
2013 was a grand year for Nigerian literature and it is very likely that 2014 will see even more accomplishments.