Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s book, THE SON OF THE HOUSE, has won one of the world’s richest literary prizes, the Nigeria Prize for Literature. The prize comes with an award of $100 000 USD, sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited.
THE SON OF THE HOUSE has been the recipient of numerous awards already. It has been shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize this year and won the SprinNG Women Author Prize 2020. It also received the Best International Fiction Book Award at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2019.
The awards ceremony was held at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos on October 30th. Onyemelukwe-Onuobia was there to accept the award and shared her delight on Instagram saying, “My heart is full”.
The jury of judges was chaired by Professor Olutoyin Jegede of the English department at the University of Ibadan. Also on the panel was Professor Tanimu Abubakar from Ahmadu Bello University and Dr Solomon Azumurana from the University of Lagos.
THE SON OF THE HOUSE is Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s debut novel. It was published in South Africa by Penguin Random House in 2019 and in North America by Dundurn Press in 2021. It has also been, or will soon be, published in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Armenia and across the world in Arabic.
The story revolves around an encounter under duress between Nwabulu and Julie, two women from vastly different backgrounds. They’re united by the same societal pressure: to marry and reproduce. Set in Nigeria, the novel is alive with local culture and family drama. It uplifts the resilience of women navigating patriarchal society.
Strong female characters were a recurring theme on the Nigeria Prize for Literature’s shortlist. The other two finalists were THE GIRL WITH THE LOUDING VOICE by Abi Daré (published by Dutton Books) and COLOURS OF HATRED by Obinna Udenwe (also published by Parresia Publishers). Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a lawyer, academic and writer of Nigerian origin who is based in both Nigeria and Canada. She graduated with a doctorate in law from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and works primarily in the areas of health, gender, and violence against women and children.