This past week, at the ceremony for the annual Etisalat Literary Prize, one of the African continent’s most prestigious awards, the Nigerian novelist Jowhor Ile was announced as this year’s winner for his debut novel And After Many Days.
A longtime short story writer in his mid-30s, Ile’s first novel has been turning heads since it was published last February. In his review of the book for the New York Times, fellow Nigerian writer Chigozie Obioma wrote: “Ile creates an atmosphere of ominous tension and renders the grief of the family in restrained and moving language. He has a particular talent for reflecting the perfect details that make even a passing moment come to life.”
And After Many Days is set in Nigeria during despotic rule of Sani Abacha in the mid-1990s and focuses on a family’s experiences as it deals with the sudden disappearance of a son. The novel beat out Nigerian author Julie Iromuanya’s Mr & Mrs Doctor and a South African writer Jacqui L’Ange’s The Seed Thief, who were subsequently rewarded as runners-up after the jury, chaired by writer Helon Habila, unanimously voted for the Ile’s novel.
The prize comes with a £15,000, a fellowship at the University of East Anglia, and an Etisalat-sponsored book tour where he will be joined by the runners up.