CORA-NPL Book Party: Nigeria Prize for Literature longlisted writers set to engage the public on August 6

Lagos Island will play host to literary enthusiasts and aspiring writers on Sunday, August 6, 2023, as the 14th edition of the CORA-Nigeria Prize for Literature Book Party takes place at the Shell Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan. This event, initiated in 2010 by the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), promises to be an intellectual extravaganza as it brings together the country’s top literary talents and the public on a single platform.

The Book Party, an extension of CORA’s campaign for literacy and enlightenment, aligns with the core values of the Nigeria Prize for Literature (NPL) sponsored by Nigeria LNG (NLNG), said a statement. 

The NPL, which offers an impressive $100,000 prize, focuses on drama this year, and on July 20, the Advisory Board, chaired by Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo, announced the 11 longlisted playwrights who made it to the next round from an equally impressive 143 initial entries.

The longlist boasts an array of talented writers across different generations, showcasing the diverse literary landscape of Nigeria.

Among the notable entries is Bode Sowande – a septuagenarian university don whose play The Spellbinder is described by the NPL judges as “a psychological enquiry into cleansing of mental instability having forgiveness at the root of its resolution.”

Whereas, Abideen Abolaji Ojomu’s The Ojuelegba Crossroads is said to take the reader “into a townhall to discuss in an engaging manner a metaphor of a society in dire need of purging, Olatunbosun Taofeek’s Where is Patient Zero “typifies a play full of drama and humour. It is an engagement on international politics of disease and economy.”

Grit by university teacher and a record fifth-timer on NPL longlist, Obari Gomba, “gives a deep insight into the destructive impact of soul-less politics which brings out the beast in man. The play is filled with conflicts that create the mood of the inevitability of tragedy. Tshe language is full of twists that entertain amid pains.”

Dance of The Sacred Feet by Ade Adeniji is concerned about “upholding the sanity of cultural tradition and yet making space to accommodate change and diversity for peace and progress.”

Yamtarawala- The Warrior King by Henry Akubuiro, an experienced art journalist whose foray into fictional works has come into reckoning, is described as “a historical play garnished with fascinating tales and rituals.”

While Victor Dugga’s Gidan Juju dwells on “kingship and succession, revolutionizing tradition and inviting post-modernity”, Olubunmi Familoni’s When Big Masquerades Dance Naked has an “insightful, socio-realistic subject-matter representing the dimension of systemic corruption and criminal alliance in traditional and contemporary political space.”

The Boat People by Christopher Anyokwu, an English and Literature lecturer, and a second timer on the NPL race, is described by the judges as presenting a “socio-culturally relevant subject-matter  that is rich in techniques. An out-of-the-box crafting of the experiences referred to as “Japa.”

Those that may be considered to fall within the young writers’ clique include: Cheta Igbokwe and Abuchi Modilim. An MFA candidate at the Iowa Playwrights’ Workshop and a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Iowa, Cheta Igbokwe’s Home Coming, is captured as “a play that gives profound understanding of tragic experiences and the psychological life of the people. It is philosophical and gravely entertaining.” 

The Brigadiers of a Mad Tribe by the winner of the 2021 Arojah Students Playwriting Prize, Abuchi Modilim, “is a discourse on the politics of marriage between science and voodoo.”

The Book Party provides a unique opportunity for the public to engage directly with these talented writers, fostering dialogue and promoting literacy across the nation. While attendance at the event is strictly by invitation, there is also a chance for online participation through the link:

The public can join in on this literary celebration and experience the creativity that thrives in Nigeria’s writing community.

The Book Party, which emerged in 1996 as a special iteration of the CORA Book Party, has since become a significant platform to showcase the best literary works from the Nigeria Prize for Literature. The prize, inaugurated in 2004 by Nigerian LNG Limited, has grown to be the most substantial literary award on the continent, encouraging and recognizing the exceptional talent within Africa’s literary sphere.

CORA, the leading literary campaign organization behind the Book Party, has been dedicated to the development and promotion of contemporary arts in Nigeria since 1999. Their Lagos Book & Art Festival (LABAF), often referred to as ‘the biggest Culture picnic on the African continent,’ has been a critical platform for artists, writers, and art enthusiasts to gather and celebrate creativity.

As the 2023 CORA-NPL Book Party approaches, literary enthusiasts and the public alike eagerly await this grand gathering of Nigeria’s finest writers. The eventual winner of the Nigeria Prize for Literature will be announced in October, further elevating the literary prestige and creative energy that thrives in the nation.

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