The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) and the Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA) have shortlisted 11 novelists as finalists for the 2016 prize for literature with the theme “Book Party”.
Eight women were among the shortlisted novelists who competed in Nigerian prose and fiction on Sunday in Lagos.
The nominees are: Maryam Awaisu (Burning Bright); Sefi Atta (A Bit of Difference); Mansim Okafor (The Parable of the Lost Shepherds); and Chika Unigwe (Night Dancer).
Others were Ifeoma Okoye (The Fourth World); Elnathan John (Born on a Tuesday); Ogochukwu Promise (Sorrows’s Joy); Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Season of Crimson Blossoms) and Yejide Kilanko (Daughters who Walk This Path).
Also shortlisted were Ifeoluwa Adeniyi (On the Bank of the River); and Aramide Segun (Enitan-Daughter of Destiny).
The 11 selected novels featured a range of human issues from love, religion, terrorism, rape, incest to anxieties of the youths.
The Secretary General of CORA, Toyin Akinosho, said NLNG and CORA believed in organising interactions between the book industry and functional library to help develop the cultures of book writing and reading in the country.
“Everyone knows that we produce remarkably good books. But, we also know that we do not discuss them enough. The soft exchange of the book reading culture is not aggressively structured,” he said.
“But, we believe in the efficiency of distribution and the profitability of the vocation of writing and reading of books available to us, so we strive to promote it,” he said.
Mr. Akinosho noted that CORA and NLNG felt that books that made it to the finals ought to be known and read in schools and communities.
He said, “Our ambition is to help promote the writing and the reading cultures in Nigerian communities.
“We do not want people to just read and write but for the book to be available in many states of the federation and for discussions.”
He, however, said that book readership promotion should go beyond “Bring Back the Book Campaigns or Book Festivals”.
The General Manager, External Relations, NLNG, Kudo Eresia-Eke, said the prize money for the winner would be 100, 000 U.S. dollars.
“It is nice to have such knowledgeable artistic and dedicated individuals at CORA that want arts to survive, especially literature,” he said.
“We are celebrating a good calibre of book writers with quality storytelling abilities and grammar.
“We have good books to exhibit to the world and we also have more works of art.”
Mr. Eresie-Eke, however, said for them at NLNG, excellence was the keyword, adding that, “We want to pride ourselves with the best because Nigeria is the best.
“We at the NLNG have reduced gas flaring in the Niger Delta region to 20 per cent, so we want to create an environmental friendly country that can help people to read and write,” he said.
“We noticed that most of our writers are based abroad but we want them to come home to a good environment and a cool one at that.”
One of the finalists, Ifeoluwa Adeniyi, said publishing is very tasking in the country.
According to her, “the constraints in publishing are enormous, you are not known, no publisher wants to touch you and again, they do a poor quality job and the distribution is nothing to write home about.
“The financial constraint will rear its head; I used my four months’ salaries to publish my book.
“Nigeria does not have good publishing companies that will proof read, publish and distribute it for you.
“Nigeria is not ripe for publishing, all the publishers just print exercise books, calendars and souvenirs, and not book publishing,” she said.
Mrs. Adeniyi, however, said that brand ambassadors should be encouraged to promote reading and writing of books.
“The industry cannot survive because government is not looking in the area of news prints.
“So writing is not being encouraged in schools and youths cannot take it on because there is no money in it,” she said.