Uganda’s Harriet Arena and Nigeria’s Tanure Ojaide (pictured) and Servio Gbadamosi have been shortlisted for the 2018 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature.
Ojaide, a professor of Africana Studies at The University of North Carolina, was shortlisted for his poetry collection, Songs of Myself.
Ojaide has published 20 poetry collections as well as scholarly and fictional works.
He obtained a B.A. in English from the University of Ibadan , and Syracuse University, where he received both M.A. in creative writing and Ph.D. in English.
Arena’s work has been nominated for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize (2018), Short Story Day Africa Prize (2017) and the Ghana Poetry Prize (2013).
Gbadamosi, a doctoral candidate in the cultural and media studies program at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, was shortlisted for his A Tributary in Servitude.
A publisher and arts administrator, Gbadamosi is a 2016 recipient of the Ebedi International Writers Residency fellowship. His poetry collection, A Tributary in Servitude, released in February, 2015, was awarded the 2015 Association of Nigerian Authors’ Prize for Poetry.
Reacting to her nomination, Arena said “The news of being on the shortlist of the prestigious WS Prize was overwhelming, in a great way; in a way that made me feel light and deeply grateful. I have been breaking out in bouts of screams and smiles since, and I rarely let my feelings loose like that, except on a page.”
Ojiade, on his part, said, “The news of my being in the shortlist came as a pleasant surprise to me. I am excited and look forward to the award night’s events. It is always the writer’s wish to have his or her work acknowledged and being shortlisted in an international contest. It is gratifying. Of course, this will draw attention to our individual works for more critical scrutiny which writers also love. I am really pleased.”
In his reaction, Servio Gbadamosi said, “I knew I was in good company when my name appeared on the long list alongside those of friends and mentors that I have been privileged to work with overtime. I’m glad that this is happening now and I’m excited about the possibilities the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa holds for the continued development of literature and literacy across the continent.”
Previous winners of the prize include Sefi Atta for ‘Everything Will Come,’ the South African Sifiso Mzobe for ‘Young Blood’ and ‘The Unseen Leopard’ by Bridget Pitt.
Organised by Lumina Foundation, the Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa is awarded to the best book written in any of the literary genres. The award gala is slated to take place at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.