Mustapha Enesi’s “Safety pins are Bad Omens” wins 2021 ACT award

Mustapha Enesi has emerged the winner in the 2021 ACT award with his short story, Safety pins are Bad Omens, beating off stiff competition in what proved to be an outstanding shortlist.  

In Safety Pins are Bad Omens, the narrator gropes her way through grief to agency. Its ending is where the narrator’s new life begins, says the statement, which announced Enesi’s win. 

According to a statement by the judges, “there is an urgency to the story and a tenderness to the telling that is gripping”. 

The other stories in the shortlist touch on womanhood, patriarchy, trauma, loss and police brutality, often in startlingly beautiful language, the judges add. 

The stories, which expand knowledge, in the risks they take, of what a short story is capable of doing, gave the judges reading pleasure, but made their job to pick one winner all the more difficult.

The future of Nigerian writing is bright, indeed. 

Previous ACT Award winners are Caleb Adebayo, Nneoma Ike Njoku, Caleb Somtochukwu Okereke, Anthony Ezekwoh, Imade Iyamu, Bakporhe Ufuomaoghen and Joshua Chizoma. 

Enesi, who lives in Lagos, Nigeria, has had his works published in The Maine Review, Kalahari Review, Eboquills, The Story Tree Challenge Maiden Anthology, and elsewhere. He was shortlisted for the 2021 Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize, and his flash fiction piece Shoes was highly commended in Litro Magazine’s 2021 Summer Flash Fiction Contest.His story, Kesandu won the 2021 K & L Prize for African Literature.


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