3 Nigerians Make Commonwealth Prize Shortlist

3 Nigerians Make Commonwealth Prize Shortlist

Three Nigerians have made this year’s Commonwealth short story prize shortlist, which is one more than 2015! The prize is a much anticipated competition and this year, it attracted nearly 4, 000 entries from 47 countries.

Chair of the judges, South African novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo, said of this year’s shortlist:

“As a novelist accustomed to the luxury of the long form, it has been a treat to discover writers who manage to crystallize such different experiences into so few words. The stories we have chosen for the shortlist are in turn comic, touching, poetic, mysterious but always fresh and unexpected.”

Twenty-six stories by writers from eleven countries make up the shortlist. Below are the extracts from the three Nigerian stories that made it to the shortlist:

Exorcism, Lausdeus Chiegboka

Lausdeus Chiegboka is a medical doctor trained at the University of Nigeria who practises in the Nigerian Navy. Born in Nsukka, Nigeria, he has published a novel titled Devil at Bay. Lausdeus also writes poetry and won second prize (literature) in the Anambra State Youth Awards in 2012.

“Bimpe was the most notable member of the church, mostly for her “colour-blocking” styles than for her protuberant belly. She would wear at least two sharply contrasting bright colours in her blouses and skirts, for example neon green and bright pink or lemon green and orange, at the same time. The colours announced her arrival and registered her presence. She always loved the front row. I knew her for her queer style of prayer. She seemed to always be the one most possessed by the Holy Ghost. She had a frightening style of speaking in tongues, muttering and repeating incongruous syllables with ‘trickesai-truckesai-abasimombobrabra-nyongo’ recurring frequently.”

Saving Obadiah, Enyeribe Ibegwam

Enyeribe Ibegwam was brought up in Lagos, Nigeria, and now lives in Washington, D.C. where he is a graduate student at Georgetown University.

“Obadiah Anyaso’s wife of two years died from an illness that shocked him, his family and friends, neighbours and parishioners; in fact all of his townspeople. Her death had been the kind where she had been seen earlier in the day, buying smoked fish and cocoyam for her evening soup, only for wails to be heard just after evening meals that Obadiah Anyaso’s wife had died. In the space of a year and six months after her death, Obadiah continued to mourn her. His beard and hair, grown as a rite for the one year mourning period, became unkempt like old toothbrush bristles.”

The Driver, Oyinkan Braithwaite

Oyinkan Braithwaite writes novels, short stories, scripts, poetry, articles and notes to herself. She has been published in anthologies and has also self-published work. Her flash fiction story – Eba, Efo Riro and a Serving of Tears was recently longlisted for the Etisalat Flash Fiction Prize. She has also performed spoken word live on radio and on TV. You can find her at Qamina.com.

“She is as they described her – a goddess with long powerful legs, skin the colour of corn and lips that would make sucking on an agbalumo look pornographic. She stands out ¾ she is a head above most of the tired and grumbling travelers waiting for their luggage to be released by the willful conveyer belt. She scans the room, looking for him. He remembers to raise the cardboard that has her name painted with thick black marker. Her mother had written it, convinced that he wouldn’t be able to write Aderisi correctly, revealing the flaws in the Nigerian public school system.”

To find out more and read the rest of the extracts, visit commonwealthwriters.org.

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