The longlist for the 2023 Nigeria Prize for Literature is out. This year is all about drama, and the judges have selected 11 outstanding plays for the longlist.

The Nigeria Prize for Literature is an annual award founded by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG). It rotates among four genres – prose fiction, poetry, drama, and children’s fiction – with the goal of supporting and celebrating exceptional literary talent in the nation. The winner receives a cash prize of $100,000.

Last year, the Nigerian poet Romeo Oriogun won the 2022 NLNG Prize for Literature for his poetry collection Nomad. Read the Brittle Paper coverage here.

Out of 143 impressive plays, the 11 plays on the longlist include:

  • Dance of The Sacred Feet by Ade Adeniji
  • Gidan Juju by Victor S. Dugga
  • Grit by Obari Gomba
  • Homecoming by Cheta Igbokwe
  • The Boat People by Chris Anyokwu
  • The Brigadiers of a Mad Tribe by Abuchi Modilim
  • The Ojuelegba Crossroads by Abideen Abolaji Ojomu
  • The Spellbinder by Bode Sowande
  • When Big Masquerades Dance Naked by Olubunmi Familoni
  • Where Is Patient Zero by Olatunbosun Taofeek
  • Yamtarawala the Warrior King by Henry Akubuiro

It is great that the Nigeria Prize continues to make space for playwrights. In a publishing industry that is dominated by fiction, plays are receiving less and less of the market share and the attention of cultural institutions like prizes and awards. We commend the Nigeria Prize for Literature for its steadfast support of published plays and their authors.

At 100,000 USD, the NLNG prize is one of the richest prizes in the world. It was established in 2004, when the award was initially worth $20,000. The prize money was increased to $30,000 in 2006, then to $50,000 in 2008, and finally to a whopping $100,000 in 2011.

Prominent past winners of the prize include children’s book author Jude Idada for Boom Boom in 2019, novelist Abubakar Adam Ibrahim for Season of Crimson Blossoms in 2016, and writer Chika Unigwe for On Black Sisters Street in 2012.

This year’s panel of judges include Ameh Dennis Akoh, a Professor of Drama and Critical Theory at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Professor Osita Catherine Ezenwanebe, and Dr. Rasheedah Liman.

The chairperson for the Nigeria Prize of Literature advisory board Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo praised the books on the longlist for grappling with themes that touch on the human condition:

These plays have impressed our esteemed judges with their profound themes, artistic craftsmanship, and the authors’ ability to breathe life into their characters and narratives, revealing a deep understanding of the human experience.

A shortlist of three writers will be announced in September and the winner will be revealed in October.

Congrats to the longlisted writers!