The advisory board for The Nigeria Prize for Literature has announced The Girl with Louding Voice by Abi Dare, The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia, and Colours of Hatred by Obinna Udenwe as finalists for the 2021 The Nigeria Prize for Literature, worth a $100,000.
Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, the chair of the Advisory Board, made the announcement at a virtual press conference. The novels were selected out of a longlist of 11, announced recently by the board from 202 entries received for the 2021 competition, focussed on Prose Fiction.
All three novels centre on strong female characters, different unravelling circumstances and experiences of women in the modern world. The Girl with the Louding Voice tells the story of a girl-child from a first-person narrative mode.
It unravels the plight of Adunni, a girl-child, who was forced out of poverty to marry at an early age to an elderly polygamous man. Her marriage to the man was for her to raise funds for her father’s survival. Thus the novel also tackles the issue of early marriage, child sexual abuse, childlessness in marriage, and domestic violence; on the other, the urgent need for female bonding or sisterhood in transcending the constraints in the life of women.
The Son of the House is a profoundly unconventional novel that portrays the lives of two women in different worlds whose paths crossed during captivity. But they soon realised their path had earlier crossed at various points. The stories of Nwabulu, a one-time housemaid and now a successful fashion designer, and Julie, an educated woman who lived through tricks, deceits, and manipulations, are told through a mosaic plot structure against the backdrop of modernity and traditional patriarchy, poverty, and neglect.
The third novel in the shortlist of three is Colours of Hatred. This confessional tale centres around the protagonist, Leona of the Dinka tribe, who ended up killing of her father-in-law. The novel is a whodunit that explores love, hatred, war, revenge, oppression, extra-judicial killings, military rule, displacement, and exile with attendant tensions that leave lasting emotional scars through introspection and re-telling of the story.
According to the judges, the selection of the three novels was unanimous. The judges will decide the winning novel, which will be announced in October 2021.