Nigerian author Chigozie Obioma has won a 2015 FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Award for his debut novel The Fishermen.
The FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Awards were launched this year by the Financial Times and OppenheimerFunds to “identify and reward talent among multiple countries and regions in the developing world”. This year, the awards recognised artists from Latin America and the Caribbean, filmmakers from Asia-Pacific and writers from Africa and the Middle East.
Obioma spoke of his excitement at winning the award during an interview with the Financial Times’ Michael Skapinker after the ceremony.
‘The Fishermen’ is the story of four brothers from a middle-class family who, with their iron-willed father absent, skip school without their mother’s knowledge. They succeed by hiding their fishing kit carefully when they come home. One day at the river, they encounter a vision-seeing crackpot who predicts that the eldest of them, Ikenna, will be killed by one of his brothers – a fisherman. This prophecy is the fire that transforms ordinary sibling rivalry into something far more deadly that follows the boys through their lives, shaking up the family and leading to a heartbreaking climax.
Obioma says the inspiration for the book was the loneliness he felt while he was studying in Cyprus, away from his family for the first time.
“Cyprus is very far from Nigeria. I come from a family of 12 children, and I have seven brothers. When we were growing up, I didn’t have any friends, because we were so complete that there was no need to have a friend. So when I uprooted myself to another country I was missing them so much, and I wanted to write a tribute,” he said.
The FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Fiction Prize was open to work published in English by writers from Africa and the Middle East this year, and nine of the 10 authors featured in the fiction longlist were from Africa, including South Africans Mandla Langa and Ingrid Winterbach.
This article first appeared HERE