NLNG, CORA host book party in honour of ‘The Nigeria Prize for Literature’ longlist of 11 playwrights

Photo shows Andy Odeh, NLNG’s GM External Relations & Sustainable Development (middle) with playwrights in the Longlist of 11 playwrights of The Nigeria Prize for Literature (2023) at the NLNG-NPL Book Party in Lagos…recently.

Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) and the Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA) last weekend in Lagos held a book party in honour of the longlist of 11 playwrights for The Nigeria Prize for Literature (2023 edition).

The book party featured the readings from the longlisted plays and a panel session with the playwrights who participated in person or virtually.

This will be the first public gathering of the writers on the longlist recently released by the panel of judges led by Professor Ameh Dennis Akoh, a Drama and Critical Theory professor at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ebonyi State. 

Other panel members include Professor Osita Catherine Ezenwanebe and Dr Rasheedah Liman.

Playwrights on the longlist who attended the event include Victor S. Dugga (Gidan Juju), Obari Gomba (Grit), Cheta Igbokwe (Home Coming), Christopher Anyokwu (The Boat People) and Abuchi Modilim (The Brigadiers of a Mad Tribe)

Other authors who attended were Olubunmi Familoni (When Big Masquerades Dance Naked), Olatunbosun Taofeek (Where Is Patient Zero) and Henry Akubuiro (Yamtarawala – The Warrior King). 

Abideen Abolaji Ojomu (Ojuelegba Crossroads), Ade Adeniji (Dance of The Sacred Feet) and Bode Sowande (The Spellbinder) joined the panel session virtually.

In his remarks, the General Manager of External Relations and Sustainable Development at NLNG, Mr Andy Odeh, said the annual book party brings NLNG, the sponsor of the prize, together with the literary community to promote excellence and creativity, and to project outstanding books to Nigerians and the world.

“Nineteen (19) years of successful administration have produced 17 winning works, and over $1 million has been won. This prize stands out as the biggest and most prestigious literary prize in Africa, and one of the world’s biggest and most reputable. We are happy that today presents an opportunity to interact with these 11 playwrights. We are just two steps away from announcing the winner of the $100,000 prize in October.

“We instituted The Nigeria Prize for Literature because we were concerned that standards of reading, writing, editing, proof-reading and publishing were drastically falling in Nigeria, a country that largely founded and dominated the African Writers Series; a country that is also known to have produced reputable writers and winning works. Today, we are glad that Nigeria can showcase great literary works published in Nigeria. Our library and bookshelves have been enriched with many great works by Nigerian writers. The Nigeria Prize for Literature alone has received over 2400 entries in the four genres, many of which are top-quality entries,” he said.

In his speech, Ropo Ewenla, a member of the CORA Board, stated that the idea of a book party sprung from a review of the prize in 2010 when some argued that stakeholders should do more for the publishing industry. He said CORA came up with the book reading event to create an opportunity for the authors to discuss their books with the audience, adding that nothing beats a book reading. He stated further that the prize money of $100,000 makes the competition one of the most keenly contested literary prizes in the world. Still, he added that writers primarily want to distinguish themselves with their writing and be recognised.

The 11 entries were selected out of 143 for this year’s prize round, which focuses on Drama. The final verdict on the winning entry is expected to be announced in October 2023.

The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly among four genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature, a press statement by the sponsors explained.

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