Caine prize winner and Farafina author, E.C Osondu is one of the nominees for this year’s Commonwealth Prize for best first book(Africa region) for his collection of short stories, Voice of America. Voice of America, which is due for publication by Farafina in May 2011, was shortlisted alongside Chioma Okereke’s Bitter Leaf and Uzoma Uponi’sColour Blind, both Nigerian writers.
Set in Nigeria and America,rave reviews already. moves from boys and girls in villages and refugee camps to the disillusionment and confusion of young married couples living in America, and back to bustling Lagos. It is the story of two countries and the frayed bonds between them. The collection has received a lot of
Helon Habila’s Oil on Water was also nominated in the best book category(Africa). Habila, also a Caine prizewinner, won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book (Africa Region) in 2003 for his debut novel, Waiting for an Angel.
“The Commonwealth Prize, established in 1987, aims to recognise the best fiction by both established and new writers from Commonwealth countries and ensure these works reach a wider audience outside their countries of origin. Almost 200 books have now been recognised with prizes since the scheme began.
The Prize aims to discover and promote up-and-coming and under-recognised writers, encourage dialogue and understanding of different cultures through reading, and share compelling stories of human experience.”
Asides the African region, the prizes for Best Book and Best First Book are awarded in three other regions: Caribbean and Canada, South Asia and Europe and South East Asia and Pacific.
Nigerian writers who have won this prize in the past include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for her debut novel Purple Hibiscus, Jesuit Priest, Uwem Akpan’s for his debut collection of short stories, Say You Are One of Them and Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, who clinched the 2010 prize for her novel, I Do Not Come To You By Chance.
*Regional winners will be announced on the 3rd of March, 2011 while the overall winners will be announced on the 21st of May, 2011.