The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature 2018 shortlist has been announced with Harriet Anena, Tanure Ojaide, and Servio Gbadamosi in the running.
The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature, worth US$10,000, is awarded every two years to the best book written by an African in any of the literary genres. Previous winners of the prize include Sefi Atta for Everything Good Will Come in 2006 and Nnedi Okorafor, Zahrah the Windseeker in 2008. In 2010, Kopano Matlwa (Coconut) and Wale Okediran (Tenants of The House) shared the honours while Sifiso Mzobe won it in 2012 for Young Blood. Akin Bello would take the honours in 2014 for his play The Egbon of Lagos.
This year the prize is being judged by a jury chaired by Margaret Busby supported by University of Texas’ Professor Toyin Falola, author of A Month Sweeter than Salt and Lagos-based international literary scholar, Olu Obafemi.
This year’s edition of the prize is for poetry and there were 110 submissions from 11 countries on the continent, including Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Rwanda. Earlier in the month the longlist with 9 of the finest poets plying their trade on the continent was announced.
The shortlist and the collections they produced are;
- Servio Gbadamosi – A Tributary in Servitude.
- Tanure Ojaide – Songs of Myself.
- Harriet Anena- A Nation in Labour.
The poets on their shortlisting said;
Harriet Anena said “The news of being on the shortlist of the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize was overwhelming, in a great way; in a way that made me feel light and deeply grateful. I have been breaking out in bouts of screams and smiles since, and I rarely let my feelings loose like that, except on a page.”
Tanure Ojiade said, “The news of my being in the shortlist came as a pleasant surprise to me. I am excited and look forward to the award night’s events. It is always the writer’s wish to have his or her work acknowledged and being shortlisted in an international contest. It is gratifying. Of course, this will draw attention to our individual works for more critical scrutiny which writers also love. I am really pleased.”
Servio Gbadamosi said, “I knew I was in good company when my name appeared on the long list alongside those of friends and mentors that I have been privileged to work with overtime. I’m glad that this is happening now and I’m excited about the possibilities the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa holds for the continued development of literature and literacy across the continent.”
The winner will be declared at a ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria on December 9, 2018.