It has emerged that Ayobami Adebayo is the winner of the 9mobile Prize for Literature 2017 for her debut novel Stay With Me today, August 8, 2019.
The 9mobile Prize for Literature was started as the Etisalat Prize for African literature to showcase the new writing talent coming out of the continent. As the Etisalat Prize for African literature, it was won by Jowhor Ile (2016), Fiston Mwanza Mujila (2015), Songeziwe Mahlangu (2014), and Noviolet Bulawayo (2013).
In 2017, there were changes as the company rebranded from Etisalat to 9Mobile; the prize also changed its name to the 9Mobile Prize for African Literature. A judging panel of Harry Garuba (chair), Doreen Baingana and Siphiwo Mahala was announced in July. In a year where many novelists were churning out amazing work, they whittled down the entries from across the continent to a longlist of nine books on December 8, 2017. The shortlist of Lesley Nneka Arimah, Marcus Low, and Ayobami Adebayo was announced at the tail end of January 2018.
The trail for the prize then went cold with no announcement on either winner or future plans from its organisers. Our friends at the Johannesburg Review of Books on noticing this did the story, The mysterious demise of the 9mobile/Etisalat Prize for Literature reporting that the prize had suddenly stopped. While assurances were made by the 9mobile team of the prize still being alive in the wake of this story, the patrons resigned from their positions.
It has emerged today that the winner of the prize is Ayobami Adebayo from a tweet by Lola Shoneyin the Nigerian publisher of the book. In the tweet, Ayobami is seen receiving her prize with Ms Shoneyin alongside other unidentified gentlemen.
— Lọlá Shónẹ́yìn (@lolashoneyin) August 8, 2019
A couple of hours after the Lola Shoneyin Tweet, 9Mobile also put out a tweet confirming the win by Ayobami Adebayo.
We are happy and proud to announce Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, as the winner of the 9mobile Prize for Literature 2018 with the book ”Stay With Me”.@ayobamiadebayo#9mobilereads #9mobile #9PFL pic.twitter.com/SeYMrjk3nM
— 9MobileNg (@9mobileng) August 8, 2019
Adebayo said on winning, “I’m delighted and grateful that Stay With Me won the @9MobileNg Prize for Literature. If you haven’t read the other books on the shortlist, you’re missing out on amazing fiction.”
It is not clear at this moment if Adebayo and the two other shortlisted writers will get the three-city tour that previous shortlistees have gotten in the past.