Jowhor Ile’s ‘And After Many Days’ Makes 2016 Etisalat Prize Shortlist

We’re extremely excited to announce that Jowhor Ile’s debut novel, And After Many Days, has been shortlisted for the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature.

According to this year’s Chair of Judges for the Prize, Helon Habila, “In addition to originality of voice and literary excellence, our purpose was to also select a work that portrays an ‘African sensibility'”.

The winner for the 2016 Etisalat Prize for Literature will be unveiled at the Grand Finale in Lagos, scheduled to take place in March 2017.

Praise for Jowhor Ile’s And After Many Days:

“One rarely finds ‘page-turner’ and ‘poetry’ in the same sentence, but And After Many Days is a rarity indeed. At once calm, collected, lyrical and heartbreaking, Ile’s debut is many things: an achingly tender portrait of family life, a brilliantly executed whodunnit, a searing critique of Nigerian politics, a meditation on love. I couldn’t put it down and was forever changed when I did. The Utu family will stay with me always.” —Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go

“Ile creates an atmosphere of ominous tension and renders the grief of the family in restrained and moving language. He has a particular talent for reflecting the perfect details that make even a passing moment come to life.” —Chigozie Obioma, The New York Times Book Review

And After Many Days is a brilliant novel that paints a vivid picture of a changing society, effortlessly shifting between moments and years, all while keeping us grounded in a growing boy’s understanding of himself and the surrounding world. It is a book that offers profound insight into a country that headlines can never capture. A wonderful debut.” —Uzodinma Iweala, author of Beasts of No Nation

“Jowhor Ile is rooted in the lush mindscape of the Niger delta. For here is a writer whose rare insight is evident not only through the voice he breathes into his characters but also in how deep he digs to tap the wellspring of their history. Bumps of pleasure and flashes of recognition lie in ambush on page after page of this smooth-singing, hard-hitting novel—a tender and lucid accomplishment by a distinctive talent.” —A. Igoni Barrett, author of Love Is Power, Or Something Like That
 
“Jowhor Ile is a rare talent. This rich book is ripe with mood and full of love, masterfully written with the perfect emotional pitch. Nigeria has a new star.” —Binyavanga Wainaina, author of One Day I Will Write About This Place

Buy copies of And After Many Days online, or call us on 0807 736 4217. 

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Call for Entries for the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature

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Etisalat Nigeria, today announced the call for entries for the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature, the second edition of the much celebrated innovative literature prize launched in 2013. The Etisalat Prize for Literature which is the first Pan African Literary Award to celebrate African fiction writers seeks to recognise, celebrate and reward debut fiction writers of African descent whose works are published in the last 24 months.

According to the Acting Chief Executive Officer at Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, “the Etisalat Prize for Literature serves as a platform for the discovery of new creative writing talent out of the African continent and is the first prize with the novel concept of also promoting the growing publishing industry in Africa. The winner receives a cash prize of £15,000 in addition to a fellowship at the prestigious University of East Anglia. The winner and shortlisted writers receive a sponsored two-city tour promoting their books.”

The acting CEO highlighted that following the success of the maiden edition last year, the literary community is eagerly awaiting this second edition. NoViolet Bulawayo won the maiden edition of the Etisalat Prize for Literature with her highly celebrated debut novel “We Need New Names”. The Etisalat Prize accepts submitted works which must be a writer’s first work of fiction over 30,000 words, which has been published in the last 24 months. The Etisalat Prize will also launch the online based flash fiction prize later in the year to engage the rising stars of fiction.

A Press Conference will be held in Lagos, in June, to announce the panel of judges for this year’s competition. Rules and guidelines for entry are available on www.etisalatprize.com

Entries close 8th of August 2014.

Americanah Wins National Books Critics Circle Fiction Prize 2014

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s first novel was longlisted for the Man Booker prize; her second, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange prize. Now her third, the acclaimed Americanah, has beaten Donna Tartt‘s The Goldfinch to win the Nigerian author one of most prestigious literary prizes in the US, the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) award.

“Adichie’s story of a Nigerian blogger who returns to her home country from the US to meet the man who was her childhood sweetheart was much-praised in the UK; the Guardian called it “impressive [and] subtle, but not afraid to pull its punches”; the Telegraph said it was “a brilliant exploration of being African in America”. Now the NBCC awards – the only US prize judged by critics – has also chosen to honour the novel, on Thursday announcing the “love story, immigrant’s tale and acute snapshot of our times” as the winner of its best novel prize, ahead of The Goldfinch, Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, Javiar Marías’s The Infatuations and Alice McDermott’s Someone.” Read More . . .Image 

Culled from The Guardian

The Etisalat Prize for Literature hosts a Creative Writing Workshop at the Bogobiri Festival

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We are very exited to announce The Etisalat Prize for Literature Week at the Bogobiri Festival this November. On the bill events is a four day  residential workshop on creative writing to be facilitated by Igoni Barrett, Eghosa Imasuen, and Binyavanga Wainaina of Farafina. The Workshop, which will focus on fictional prose writing, will hold from the 7th to the 10th of November 2013.

Bogobiri invites interested members of the public to send in applications. There are ten places up for grabs. All you have to do is email your application to bogobiriwriter@kachifo.com. Applications should include a short cover note, short biographical details, and a prose writing sample (it may be fiction or non-fiction) of between 200-800 words. All should be in the body of the email; sadly, applications with attachments will be deleted unread. Participation in the workshop is free and the organisers will provide accommodation and feeding for the duration.

In advance of the workshop writers who have made the final list will be asked to send in an original work of short fiction.  Participants will also be sent several stories and excerpts from longer works as reading material to be discussed at the workshop. During the workshop each participant’s work will be critiqued by the facilitators and developed using workshop exercises, readings from well-known authors and reading out loud. Throughout the duration, participants will be encouraged to share their writing and offer and receive feedback with fellow writers and facilitators.  There will also be daily assignments to hone creative writing skills.

Applications will close on the 29th of October and successful applicants will be notified by Saturday, the 2nd of November, 2013.

Update (4pm 06 Nov 2013): Binyavanga Wainaina will not be coming to the workshop due to other important engagements.

Invitation to Official Launch of Eghosa Imasuen’s Fine Boys

Farafina Books will be launching the print version of Eghosa Imasuen’s Fine Boys, which has been recently released. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be hosting the launch, and there will be readings by Eghosa, from Fine Boys. Binyavanga Wainaina will also be reading from his much-acclaimed memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place.

There will be music and spoken word performances by Honey Adum and Efe Paul Azino, and freebies for some lucky guests. Guests will also get a chance to chat with the authors and get their books signed. Your favourite Farafina titles will be available for sale.

Date: Saturday, 25 August 2012
Time: 2 p.m.
Venue: Quintessence, Falomo Shopping Complex,  Falomo, Ikoyi, Lagos

Entry is absolutely free! Bring a friend!

Killing me softly with Fine Boys: A review of Eghosa Imasuen’s Fine Boys, by Chimeka Garricks

It’s uncanny how, in many ways, Eghosa Imasuen’s Fine Boys is the story of me, from many lifetimes ago.

After reading it, my first reaction was surprise – by the tears in my eyes and the realization that I’d been ambushed into a therapy session I did not know I needed. Then, in an epiphany, I fully empathized with the lyrics of “Killing Me Softly” (a song I never really liked despite several versions).

However, there’s plenty to like, no, plenty to love in Fine Boys.

First, it works as a story because Eghosa Imasuen is a skilled storyteller (and not a wordsmith trying to show off). Fine Boys is a haunting and darkly funny story about the real Lost Boys, characterized by Ewaen and his friends in their early years in university in the 90s, where they vainly struggle to escape the influences of campus gangs and a military dictatorship, while trying to have as much fun and as little responsibility as possible. It appears to be a simple coming of age tale, but that is a con. The genius of the story is in its multiple layers, and its saving of an accurate snapshot of our history (lest we are all afflicted by the particularly Nigerian curse of forgetting or airbrushing it).

There is a proud and pleasing element of Nigerian English in the writing. In proper Nigerian English, distances are measured in NEPA poles, NEPA “takes light”, we “branch” to see our friends, who then “escort” us to various places; we describe people as “yellow” or having “open teeth”, and guys “gist” (not gossip). Fine Boys is also a startling reminder of the beauty and power of our Pidgin (that criminally unappreciated and easily-ridiculed language). For example, how many English words would one require to explain the full meaning and range of jaguda; or can ‘buttocks’ or ‘arse’ ever be as powerfully rude as yansh?

Yes, there seems to be an autobiographical slant to Fine Boys, but in my view this only adds to the authenticity of the tale.

If anything, Eghosa Imasuen has written the biography of our generation (and this, I suspect, was his intention all along). Writing in glorious, vivid, HD (and even complete with the nostalgic soundtrack of the time), he has exposed the foibles of a generation which, arguably, is one of the most scarred in post-war Nigeria. A generation which lost years of academic life to strikes (for example with no ‘extra year’, I completed a five-year course in seven years). A generation that remained blind to the irony of bravely protesting against the tyranny of military dictatorship, while having no compunction about doing mindless violence to members of rival confras. A generation which cursed corrupt leaders and elders, but cheated in exams. A generation which, incredibly, deludes itself still, that it is better, nobler, than the rest. Fine Boys is not just our story – it’s our ode, diatribe, lamentation, and our what-the-hell-happened-to-us.

Like I said, I cried after reading Fine Boys. My tears were for my wasted youth, scars that will never heal, lost friends, and the death of innocence.

And when I dried my eyes, I thought: Eghosa Imasuen, guy, you sabi write sha.

Chimeka Garricks is the author of Tomorrow Died Yesterday, published by Paperworth Books in 2011.

The Thing about Fine Boys

Eghosa Imasuen’s latest novel, Fine Boys, is making big waves on the literary scene! Haven’t got your copy yet? This review by Stanley Azuakola for YNaija should convince you.

Eghosa Imasuen had quite a few doubters after the release of his début novel, To Saint Patrick. For the most part, the doubts were not a criticism of his art, but an instinctive reluctance by many to accept the audacity of the book. The book demanded far too much from its readers, who were expected to accept its imagined Nigeria where power was constant, high-speed trains glided smoothly, and police officers were highly motivated and effective. In this our Nigeria? It is easier for Nigerians (with the exception of those in power) to relate with a far worse depiction of the country than one which paints it in over-flowery strokes.

Imasuen’s response to his critics is a second novel, Fine Boys—a finely crafted tour de force. It tells the story of the 90s in a brilliant, fun and piercing narrative. In many ways, that decade was the most significant in the annals of our nation, save the decade of independence itself. It was the 90s of rival gangs in unending turf wars in our tertiary institutions, and the 90s of the bespectacled dictator in Aso Rock. Somehow, Imasuen was able to weave a tale which merged those two realities and their fallouts in such a way that the reader is left feeling that it was only fitting that Nigeria was dealt with the two nightmarish scenarios at the same time. It couldn’t have been any other way.

Through the eyes and tongue of the young and smart Ewaen, the author takes us through the ordeal that was university life in those days, one that—unfortunately—current undergraduates can still relate with. Set mostly in the University of Benin, the beauty of this narration is how it is told with so much fun and so little didacticism. With the exception of Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani in I do not Come to You by Chance, no other contemporary author comes close to Imasuen for wit and humour.

We meet other well-developed characters as the story proceeds, like Wilhelm, Ewaen’s oyinbo friend who was at the centre of the book’s main conflict; Oliver Tambo; Yibril; and Brenda. In those short pages, we literally see the characters evolve and grow as they encounter friendship, love, sex, betrayal, strike actions, fear and brutality. We sympathize with and berate them as they make some crazy choices, we exhale as they manage narrow escapes and we agonise for them when tragedy comes calling.

Like any adventure which involves young people, the pages of Fine Boys are fueled by verve and vibrancy as the characters, in their own way, weave through the maze placed by cult groups (confras) in school as well as the uncertainty during those days of MKO Abiola, pro-democracy activists and soldiers occupying campuses. What Imasuen did with this book was dispel the notion of university cult gangs as mystical, occult conclaves. The lads were foolish, misguided, insecure maybe, vicious and violent even, but cult gangs were not centres of ritualism, channelling or voodooism.

The greatest compliment for Fine Boys has to be that the book is bold and shorn of pretences. The author avoided the sin of excessive italicisation or translation of ‘Nigerianisms.’ You will find words like mumu, oyinbo, yansh and ebelebo tree throughout the pages. They weren’t italicized, placed in inverted comas or translated in a bracket. Imasuen had no problems writing ‘we cheat sha,’ ‘that one pained me oh,’ ‘she liked play-play,’ or ‘they loved each other well-well.’ This was not a work crafted to meet the tastes of some foreign agent or publisher.

One issue some readers might not be able to shake off easily is the autobiographical feel of the novel. Ewaen sounds strikingly like the author himself; their life experiences are identical as well, and those who’ve met the author can identify some of the other characters in the book among those in his close circle of friends; not that it takes away anything from the work.

Fine Boys is a book which every book lover—every Nigerian—should read. It expertly conveys the irony of the Nigerian experience. Consider this excerpt as narrated by Ewaen on the day his younger brother wrote JAMB: “I looked across the street at the secondary school where my brother was supposed to be writing his entrance exams into university. Rundown, ramshackle. It was a symbol of everything wrong with the system.” Interestingly, Ewaen, by this time a 17-year-old University of Benin undergraduate, did not consider himself sitting in a market stall waiting for ‘expo’ or illegal answers to smuggle in for his brother as a symbol of what is wrong with the system. He only saw the rundown structure, not his rundown ideals. How very Nigerian.

To order copies of Fine Boys, please call 08035730205 or email orders@kachifo.com.