Nigerian writer Enyeribe Ibegwam has been announced winner of the 2021 Chautauqua Janus Prize for his short story “After School Hours,” described as “defying categorization” and having a “hypnotic” effect.
The Chautauqua Janus Prize, now in its fourth year, is administered by New York-based Chautauqua Institution and annually “celebrates one emerging writer’s single work of short fiction or nonfiction for daring formal and aesthetic innovations that upset and reorder literary conventions, historical narratives and readers’ imaginations. Named for Janus, the Roman god who looks to both the past and the future, the prize honors writing with a command of craft that renovates our understandings of both.”
In addition to a $5,000 cash award, Ibegwam will present a public lecture and reading at a celebratory event at 3:30 p.m. EDT Friday, July 30, as part of the online portion of Chautauqua Institution’s 2021 Summer Assembly.
Ibegwam’s work has appeared in PEN America Best Debut Stories 2019, Prairie Schooner, The Southampton Review, Auburn Avenue, The Georgia Review and Transition Magazine. A graduate of Iowa Writer’s Workshop, he has received PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for his debut short story and was a finalist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
As stated by the organizers, “After School Hours” is a coming-of-age story of the speaker, whose name we never learn, and his Nigerian immigrant community in the Washington, D.C., area. In deft prose, Ibegwam paints the immigrant community with its class differences, the aspiration of immigrant parents and the stunted lives of their children, with an ending as funny as it is heartbreaking.”
Ibegwam revealed that the winning short story had faced many rejections before it was finally accepted for publication by Transition Magazine. The win, he said, was “a boost, a spur even.”
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Congratulations to Enyeribe Ibeagwam!