Could somebody please help me understand this? A literary prize one of whose entry conditions is that "Books that have won other awards are not eligible for this prize."
In this way, excellent works such as Petina Gappah's An Elegy for the Easterly, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun, and Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani's I Do not Come to you by Chance are already condemned by the grace of their sheer excellence. Is it still a prize for excellence or a pat on the back for trying? How, in the name of all that is holy, can excellence be a disqualifying factor in a prize dedicated to excellence? How can a prior recognition be a badge of dishonor, a stigma? How am I to take the winning entry seriously? Or rather the prize itself?
A mercy prize award? It's like marrying somebody out of pity: You enter into marriage with an ugly man who's been rejected by all the women around. How's that?
I ask these question not because this prize shouldn't be taken seriously; I ask because Wole Soyinka Prize for literature is a terrible thing to waste.
Anyway, here's the result of the recently concluded prize award. Congratulations to prize winners.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Wole Soyinka Literature prize - A mercy prize award
Posted by Chielozona Eze at 9:10 AM
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It would appear that the Lumina Foundation has quietly dropped that unreasonable rule (the one requiring that entries must not have won an award), otherwise Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani's novel would not have been shortlisted for this year's prize.ReplyDelete
@ MW, might that be the reason why she didn't win? After all, her Commonwealth regional prize was but six weeks ago and surely her book would have been entered for the Soyinka prize before she won that particular prize.ReplyDelete
You have a point there, AMC. The shortlist came after she'd won the Commonwealth and so I thought perhaps... But who knows with these things?ReplyDelete
The lack of clarity and sincere pursuit of excellence in the whole business makes me sad. It is sad that Petina Gappah's collection has made it to the shortlists of nearly half a dozen important literary prizes on the globe, and has won perhaps the most important of them all (Guardian First Book), but it remains unrecognized in Africa. I would want Wole Soyinka literature prize to blaze a trail and not take a backseat in the discovery of literary excellence in the African world.ReplyDelete
True Chielo, but we have no way of knowing if Petina Gappah's book was actually entered for the WS Prize. The judges would still have to choose from what is actually entered. At 330 entries for the 2010 prize however, they'd have had to have a substantial number from across the whole of Africa.ReplyDelete
One niggly point with this prize, and one raised by at least one judge, is the consideration of different genres together. Remember 2006 when Sefi Atta's novel was in the running with Remi Raji's poetry collection? They had an all novel shortlist this year, but they might have to iron out this mixed-genre business sooner or later.
Molara, you are right, my sister. Well, it's all still a work in progress. I hope that it will get more professional with time.ReplyDelete
Hi there, what a very nice man you are Chielo, thanks as always for such great drum-beating. I must confess that it did not occur to me to enter the WS Prize ... I was under the impression that you were under Chielo, that you could not be considered for it if you had won other awards. I take it from Kopano's win that this has now been dropped, as she was the 2007 winner of the EU Literary Award, which is how her book came to be published. For 2012, I hope to submit something, and will encourage others to do so.ReplyDelete
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Well, Petina, you deserve it.ReplyDelete
its a way to discourage writers from collecting prizes all over using one book... like a one hit wonder that wins a grammy,an Oscar and all every year.. i think its a good way to encourage good writers to go out there and write some more booksReplyDelete