Nigerian writer Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ has won the £15, 000 9Mobile Prize for Literature for her novel, Stay With Me.
Adébáyọ̀’s win was announced by her Nigerian publisher, Ouida Books.
The award celebrates debut African writers of published fiction, and the judges for the 2018 edition of the award are Professor Harry Garuba (chair), Doreen Baingana and Siphiwo Mahala.
The cheery news is coming a-year-and-seven-months after the prize’s shortlist was announced in January 2018. The shortlist had on it Nigeria’s Lesley Nneka Arimah, for What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky; Nigeria’s Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, for Stay with Me; and South Africa’s Marcus Low, for Asylum.
During that painfully long and conflicting period, questions were fired at the prize’s integrity and longevity; and even the Prize’s Board of Patrons— Ama Ata Aidoo, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, Margaret Busby, Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Zakes Mda and Dele Olojede—released a statement to express ‘dismay and sadness’ over how the prize had ‘been allowed to disappear without any announcement or explanation from the sponsors’.
The organizers of the award, Nigerian telecommunication company, 9Mobile might have righted their wrongs with this announcement but it is left to be seen if the prize would continue—and winners awarded at the appropriate time.