Art and Life

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia wins $100,000 NLNG Literature Prize for 2021

Access Bank
Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia on Saturday night, October 30, 2021 in Lagos won the $100,000 NLNG Literature Prize for 2021.

Chairman of the Advisory Board, The Nigeria Prize for Literature & Literary Criticism, Prof Akachi Adimorah-Ezeigbo, disclosed that Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s “The Son of the House” bet two other shortlisted novels, Abi Dare’s “The Girl with Louding Voice” and

Obinna Udenwe’s “Colours of Hatred” to emerge winner.

“The journey leading to this evening started several months ago with the receipt of 202 Novels for the Literature Prize since the genre in focus is Prose Fiction. Immediately the Panel of Judges was constituted, they swung into action and despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic, found creative ways to do their work meticulously, using a set of 11 clearly defined and approved Criteria. The Panel of judges also worked in close coordination with the Advisory Board, and the Secretariat of the Prize to produce evaluate and prune down the 202 entries to 50, then 25. From this point, they were able to produce a longlist of 11 and thereafter, a shortlist of 3,” she said.

According to Adimorah-Ezeigbo, “Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s The Son of the House was published in 2019 by Parresia Publishers. The novel presents the predicaments of two women, Nwabulu a one-time housemaid and a successful fashion designer; and Julie, an educated woman who lived through tricks, deceits and manipulations, as they meet in captivity. Both women decide to tell each other their stories. They soon discover that their lives had crossed at different points.

The subject matter of the novel is developed through the rupture of traditional plot and the mediation of a single narrative voice. It is made up of a prologue and a three part story moments, each dominated by multiple points of narration, “The Son of the House” is an experimental novel with a complex plot structure made up of a main plot and several subordinate plots that intercept.

“Obinna Udenwe’s Colours of Hatred is a plot-driven detective story and published by Parresia in 2020. The novel is a confessional that centres on the story of Leona of the Dinka tribe and her involvement in the killing of her father-in-law. It is a whodunit, which through introspection and re-telling explores issues of love, hatred, war, revenge, oppression, extra-judicial killings, military rule, displacement and exile with their attendant tensions that leave scars on people and homes. In this context, the novel draws substantially from the tradition of modernism and deploys investigative techniques of detective narratives and flash backs to account for what has happened.

“After a careful scrutiny of the three Novels, the Panel of Judges and the Advisory Board have, in consideration of its profundity of technique and subject matter as a Nigerian family saga, its thematic depth and social relevance as a commentary on the diversity of collective experiences that shape, hold and mar families in postcolonial Nigeria, and its feminist undertones, found Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s “The Son of the House” outstanding, and declare it the Winner of the 2021 Nigeria Prize for Literature.”

•PHOTO: Mrs Eyono Fatayi-Williams, GM, External Relations & Sustainable Development; Dr. Philip Mshelbila, NLNG MD/CEO; HRM Dr. Edmund M. Daukoru, Chairman, NLNG Board of Directors; 2021 The Nigeria Prize for Literature winner, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia; and members of the prize’s Advisory Board Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (Chairperson), Prof. Olu Obafemi and Prof. Ahmed Yerima at the 2021 NLNG Grand Award Night in Lagos…Saturday night.

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