by Chi Ibe
Chika Unigwe, the Nigerian-born writer based in Belgium, has been announced as winner of the Nigeria Prize for Literature endowed by the Nigeria LNG Limited. She won for her novel, ‘On Black Sister’s Street‘. The prize, worth $100, 000, was announced yesterday at an event in Lagos.
On Black Sister’s Street won over two other novels – ‘Only a Canvas’, by Olusola Olugbesan and Onaedo; ‘The Blacksmith’s Daughter‘ by Ngozi Achebe.
The chair of the panel of judges, Professor Ayo Banjo, remarked that they consider Unigwe’s novel “a work of outstanding merit” – while noting the panel’s worry about poor quality of publishing in Nigeria.
“Some of the entries would have stood a better chance of winning this prize but were marred by problems attendant upon poor publishing,” he said.
“Some of the books submitted for this year’s prize failed to to rise to the final stage because of issues like poor editing, proofreading and other publishing errors. Nigerian publishers ought to realise that this prize is an international one.”
Unigwe, who has a Ph.D in Literature from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, is an award-winning author whose debut novel, De Feniks was published in 2005 by Meulenhoff and Manteau was shortlisted for the Vrouw en Kultuur debuutprijs for best first novel by a female writer. She has also written two children’s books.