Anyaegbuna wins 2012 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa Region

Posted: May 25, 2012 in general

Commonwealth Writers Monday announced the regional winners for the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize with Nigerian contemporary writer Jekwu Anyaegbuna, bagging the Africa Regional prize for his book titled; Morrison Okoli (1955-2010).

Anyaegbuna who will represent Africa will now compete with winners of the Asia, Canada & Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific regions, for overall winner which will be announced at Hay Festival June 8.

Commenting on the winners, Chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Margaret Busby said, “We were wonderfully spoilt for choice among some strong regional contenders on the shortlist, and although we could not take every favourite further, the books that triumphed are a reminder of what the best fiction can be: moving, entertaining, enlightening, exciting, engaging our thoughts and emotions, while creating an intimate connection with someone else’s imagination.  Here are novels with memorable characters, unpredictable situations, a sense of humour, books that give insights into cultures and histories not our own, crafted by writers who care about language, and its ability to renew and enrich our view of the world. ”

India’s Anushka Jasraj, won the Asia Regional prize for the book; Radio Story; as the regional winner for Canada and Europe was British writer Andrea Mullaney for the work The Ghost Marriage. Regional winner, for the Caribbean region was Diana McCaulay of Jamaica for The Dolphin Catcher; while Regional winner for Pacific was New Zealand’s Emma Martin for the book Two Girls in a Boat.

Commenting, Chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Bernardine Evaristo said: “The five regional winning stories this year rose to the top of a pool of 2200 entries and are the result of vigorous debate among the judges. We discussed not only the quality of the storytelling but the context of their respective literary cultures including notions of stereotypes and ‘the prize-winning formula’. Our final choices encompass range, depth, beauty, unpredictability and re-readability. These short stories will take you on a journey that spans cultures, eras, generations, and diverse ways of being and seeing. To read them is to inhabit other worlds.”

Commonwealth Writers is a new cultural programme within the Commonwealth Foundation which develops, connects and inspires writers.  By awarding prizes and running on-the-ground activities, it works in partnership with international literary organisations, the wider cultural industries and civil society to help writers develop their craft in the fifty four countries of the Commonwealth. http://www.commonwealthwriters.org is a forum where members from anywhere in the world can exchange ideas and contribute to debates.

It would be recalled that Anyaegbuna was a member of the 2009 class of students that attended the annual Farafina Writing Workshop organised by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, winner of the 2007 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction.

While commenting on Anyaegbuna’s name featuring on the short story shortlist earlier on, Adichie had said, “I’m going to be presenting the awards at the Hay festival…and I think I might just cry if Jekwu wins. This is exactly why I wanted to do this workshop, to let Nigeria see our talent, to let the world see our talent.”

Anyaegbuna who currently lives and works in Lagos, is a graduate of the University of Ilorin, and his short stories and poems have appeared in several literary journals in the United States and the United Kingdom including Ambit, Orbis, Other Poetry, The Journal, Bow-Wow Shop, Eclectica Magazine, Atticus Review, Yuan Yang Journal, The Talon Magazine, Dark Lady Poetry, Asinine Poetry, Vox Poetica, Breadcrumb Scabs, Haggard and Halloo, New Black Magazine, Pattaya Poetry Review, dcomP MagazinE, Tipton Poetry Journal, Obsession, and Black Heart Magazine.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2011, the Commonwealth Foundation re-launched its prizes to form part of Commonwealth Writers. The prizes act as catalysts to target and identify talented writers from different regions who will go on to inspire and inform their local communities.

Lucy Hannah, Programme Manager (Culture) Commonwealth Foundation, said “These two new prizes are a really positive start to Commonwealth Writers. We had entries from a huge range of countries including Lesotho, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Samoa. We’ll now be helping our regional winners to gain a wider readership, develop their craft and to inspire others in their region.”

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