UI alumnus becomes first Nigerian to win McKitterick Prize

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Twitter appoints Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to board of directors
July 21, 2018

A University of Ibadan alumnus, Anietie Isong, has become the first Nigerian to win the McKitterick Prize.

Anietie emerged winner of the 2018 McKitterick Prize with his debut novel titled ‘Radio Sunrise.’

The McKitterick Prize is administered by the Society of Authors to honour the first novel by a writer aged over 40; and was presented to Anietie at the Authors’ Awards ceremony in London by Stephen Fry, a popular broadcaster and actor.

Anietie, who is also a brother of an award-winning Nigerian filmmaker, Emem Isong, has joined a distinguished line of past winners such as Mark Haddon, Helen Dunmore and Petina Gappah.

Being the first Nigerian to win the Prize since its inception in 1990, Anietie disclosed that he was excited to be this year’s winner of the Prize.

“I am thrilled that my debut novel resonated with the judges. Radio Sunrise paints a satirical portrait of (post) post-colonial Nigeria that builds on the legacy of the great African satirist tradition of Ngugi Wa Thiongo and Ayi Kwei Armah. Its just a story about Ifiok, a young journalist working for the government radio station in Lagos, aspires to always do the right thing but the odds seem to be stacked against him.”

“Government pressures cause the funding to his radio drama to get cut off, his girlfriend leaves him when she discovers he is having an affair with an intern, and kidnappings and militancy are on the rise in the country.

“When Ifiok travels to his hometown to do a documentary on some ex-militants’ apparent redemption, a tragi-comic series of events will make him realise he is unable to swim against the tide.”

The award event took place on 19 July at the Royal Institute of British Architects, with an audience of over 400 guests cutting across the publishing industry.

Commenting on the winner’s work, Aamer Hussein, short story writer and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, who was the Prize judge said:“It’s a particular pleasure to discover the original, intriguing voice of Anietie Isong. In his brief, deftly told Radio Sunrise, the author depicts his often-hapless protagonist’s sexual mishaps and political travails on a journey to his hometown with a unique blend of humour and poignance. An intriguing and accomplished new novelist.”

Anietie who received a glorious £4000 prize money, also divulged that he has been invited to speak in September at the Marlborough Literature Festival in the UK.

Having worked as a journalist, public relations manager and speechwriter in Nigeria and in the UK, Anietie’s writings have also received other awards which include: Commonwealth Short Story Award and the Remember Oluwale Writing Prize.

Anietie had recently completed his PhD in New Media and Writing at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Onifade Bello is a unionist, budding journalist, writer, satirist, librarian, information scientist and political analyst. He is a graduate of the University of Ibadan and author of the controversial seminal work: 'Student Unionism in Nigeria: Challenges & Strategies.' He can be reached via [email protected] or Twitter: @orlayeme.

Leave a Reply