“A work of outstanding merit”: Literary leader applauds Chika Unigwe’s NLNG Award winning book

by Rachel Ogbu

Chika Unigwe, winner of this year’s Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Literary Award has expressed gratitude over winning the award with the novel ‘On Black Sisters’ Street’.

“I have read some of the writers on the long list of 10 and admired their works, and so to come this far with my book is incredibly humbling. I am honoured as well. For a writer who constantly doubts her abilities, this is validation for me that maybe I am doing something right,” she said.

Unigwe who will receive a cash of 15.7 million Naira ($100,000), said, “I haven’t thought much about the money, to be honest. I didn’t think I’d win, so I had no shopping list. I know I’d like to give something back to Nigeria, but not sure yet what form that would take.”

“My car is breaking down, so I’ll probably replace it,” she added, laughing.

Unigwe is the first Nigerian author in the Diaspora to win the NLNG literature prize.

Abiola Irele, chairman of judges for the prize who said, the novel is striking because of the compassion that informs it and Ayo Banjo, chairman of the Advisory Board who described the piece as “a work of outstanding merit”, the mother of four said, “I am overwhelmed by the amount of good wishes I am getting. It is incredible.”

Now based in Turnhout, Belgium with her husband and children, Unigwe who was born in Enugu, Nigeria, said, when writing the book she didn’t imagine it would turn out this way. “I had no expectations for it beyond writing a good book and hoping it would get a good home. I hoped it would reach as many people as possible, as one does when one writes. I have been lucky. I am glad with its success.”

‘On Black Sisters’ Street’ contended with other works like ‘Onaedo: The Blacksmith’s Daughter’ by Ngozi Achebe and ‘Only a Canvas’ by Olusola Olugbesan.

Unigwe has authored another book, ‘Night Dancer’.

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