Nigeria’s Jowhor Ile Wins Etisalat Prize for Literature
Nigerian writer, Jowhor Ile has emerged as the winner of the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature at the Grand Finale in Lagos, which took place on May 20, 2016 at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Ile’s novel And After Many Days was selected as the best, over Jacqui L’Ange’s (South Africa) The Seed Thief and Juliet Iromuanya’s (Nigeria) Mr and Mrs Doctor. Multiple award-winning novelist and poet, Helon Habila, chaired the judging panel which unanimously selected Ile’s book.
Jowhor Ile was born in 1980 and raised in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He began writing at an early age and had some of his short stories published in McSweeney’s Quarterly and Litro Magazine. His prize-winning 256-page novel, And After Many Days, is set in Port Harcourt in the oil-rich Niger-Delta region and tells a powerful moving story of a family whose 17-year old son and sibling, Paul Utu, goes missing during the rainy season of 1995. Burdened with the sudden loss, the family gets torn apart, as their search for answers uncovers several family secrets.
Following the announcement of the winner, Habila disclosed that And After Many Days met all the criteria for the Etisalat Prize, including originality, creative excellence and African sensibility, in keeping with the overall objective of the prize, to promote and spotlight the excellence of literature within the continent.
Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, while congratulating the winner and runners-up, restated the company’s commitment to continuously offer Nigerians and other Africans the best platforms to express their passion and creativity.
“From the outset, our vision at Etisalat has been to support innovation, creativity and talent development. This is why we have stayed focused on creating platforms that enable people, not only to communicate and stay in touch with one another, but also to express their individual creative abilities in all forms of science and arts,” he said.
In addition to the prize money of £15,000 and Montblanc Meisterstück, Ile will also receive an Etisalat-sponsored fellowship at the University of East Anglia where Professor Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland, will mentor him. He and the two runners-up will participate in a multi-city book tour of three African countries, also sponsored by Etisalat Nigeria. Furthermore, Etisalat will purchase 1,000 copies of their books for distribution to schools, libraries and book clubs across Africa.
Past winners of the Etisalat Prize for Literature include Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of Congo), for his novel, Tram 83; Songeziwe Mahlangu (South Africa) for his novel, Penumbra and NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) for We Need New Names.
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