These Nigerian Authors are Bringing New Narratives to The UK’s Foremost Literary Prize for Women

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When it comes to literature, Nigerian authors are known to break barriers and our women authors are at the center of something of a literary phenomenon.

The Longlist, which is the UK’s foremost award for women in literature, celebrates and honours women, whose work represents a multitude of themes and perspectives.

Oyinkan BraithwaiteAkwaeke Emezi, and Diana Evans were announced on March 4 as part of the sixteen authors long-listed for the prestigious prize. The three books in particular, represent a diversity of experiences and show that the literary industry is finally open to more nuance from women authors of colour.

In Ordinary People Evans uses celebrity events from Michael Jackson’s overdose to a Jill Scott concert to wallow in the malaise of suburban middle class life of London couples in London, an ordinariness often overlooked. The novel was named as one The New Yorker’s Best Books of 2018. 

Freshwater, named as one of Quartz Africa’s best African books of 2018, is Emezi’s debut novel of the multiple voices of a Igbo god living within a young woman. Emezi has also used Igbo cosmology to locate their experience of a trans African. Their inclusion in the list means it is the first time a non-binary trans author has been included in the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Competition judges, perhaps expecting some controversy, published an editorial on the same day as the list announcement. 

Also a debut, My Sister, The Serial Killer is the dark and funny relationship between a murderous yet glamorous Lagosian fashion designer and her responsible older sister, always ready with bleach and rubber gloves. Braithwaite didn’t want to write the great Nigerian novel, rejecting the idea that there is a single Nigerian story, instead she opted to have fun with her imagination.

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