Alert! Following her Cape Town book launch last week, Kopano Matlwa hopped on a plane for Lagos, Nigeria, to attend, as a shortlistee, the ceremony for the $20 000 Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature.
Drum roll please…. and she duly won it! The prize was given jointly to Matlwa and Wale Okediran, for their novels Coconut and Tenants of the House, respectively. The third shortlistee, meanwhile, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (I Do not Come to You by Chance), was perhaps jinxed by the prize’s patron: earlier in the evening, Wole Soyinka averred that he hoped that the prize would not be won by a Nigerian woman, as they had dominated it in the past. Soyinka also apparently expressed the hope that Okediran wouldn’t win it either, as 234Next.com reports:
The three finalists also received tokens from the organisers to make up for any one of them eventually losing out. Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, who was also at the event, had pointed out that hopefully, this year the winner will not be a Nigerian woman as had been the case with the two previous editions. Okediran was the single male and second Nigerian writer on this edition’s shortlist and Soyinka had hoped he would not win.
At the end of the evening, one winner was declared plus one more. Possibly to break from Soyinka’s observation, Matlwa of South Africa and Okediran, former president of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) were declared joint winners of the third Wole Soyinka Prize for literature.
This came as a surprise to many in the hall, who already thought there would be one clear winner.
Coconut is Matlwa’s first novel; it got her on her SA Lit start by winning the 2007 EU Literary Award. Heartiest congratulations to the author for second win with the novel. From the book’s blurb:
Coconut is a story that deals with growing up as a black child in a white world. It is the story of black youth who grow up in white neighbourhoods, go to private schools and have white friends. As is the case with any child, all that these children want is to grow, to be loved; but most importantly, to fit in. Fitting in, however, comes at the cost of one’s blackness – too white for black, and too black for white.
Okediran’s Tenants of the House, meanwhile, “a fictional account of Okediran’s tenure as Member of House of Representatives[2004-2007]“. Okediran is a former president of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). Click here and here for some pictures from recent launches of his book.
The next Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature will be awarded in 2012.
Scribd.com book preview:
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Photo courtesy 234Next.com