Nigerian writer shortlisted for UK’s biggest literary prize fund

A Nigerian writer, Anietie Isong,
A Nigerian writer, Anietie Isong.

A Nigerian writer, Anietie Isong, has been shortlisted for the Betty Trask, McKitterick, Tom-Gallon and Somerset Maugham awards alongside 21 other authors.

The Society of Authors made the announcement on June 13.

Anietie is shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize, for his debut novel, Radio Sunrise.

The McKitterick Prize is awarded to a first novel by a writer over 40.

The four prizes will be awarded at The Authors’ Awards on July 19, in London, a unique night of riches with all the awards judged by authors for authors.

The event will also see the UK’s biggest literary fund of more than £98,000 awarded to established and emerging writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Frances Fyfield, a McKitterick judge says of Radio Sunrise: “A small volume, staying long in the imagination, with the huge backdrop of a young, utterly likeable Nigerian journalist trying to live a life and get ahead. Lovely, simple first-person narrative of youthful manhood, getting it wrong, getting it right, learning on the hoof. Makes the reader long to meet him, while engendering both hope and despair for the society he inhabits, all enlivened by humour. ”

The award has rewarded the early works of some of today’s most prominent literary figures such as Zadie Smith, Seamus Heaney, Helen Dunmore, Hari Kunzru, Carol Ann Duffy and Mark Haddon.

Anietie has worked as a journalist, speechwriter and public relations manager in the UK and in Nigeria. His writing has also received some awards, including a Commonwealth Short Story Award and the Remember Oluwale Writing Prize. He recently completed a PhD in New Media and Writing at De Montfort University, Leicester.

The judges for each award, including Joanne Harris, Samantha Shannon, Frances Fyfield, Abir Mukherjee, Irenosen Okojie, Jen Campbell and Paul Bailey, were impressed by the ‘compelling, sophisticated, original and emotionally charged’ writings of the shortlisted authors.

They say the stories take the reader from the landscapes of rural and urban Britain and on to the streets of Cairo, Cape Town, Australia and beyond, via themes of grief, love, justice, family and revolution.

The Society of Authors’ Awards is the UK’s biggest literary prize fund and has, since 1943, grown to celebrate poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

A collection of eight prizes, uniquely run by authors for authors and shared each year between more than 20 writers, the Authors’ Awards reward, empower and bring recognition to writers at every stage of their careers.


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