Monday, August 28, 2017

On the NLNG Sponsored Prize for Literature by Gimba Kakanda.

One develops a sharper sense of shame reading these semi-literate tirades shared as criticism of the NLNG-sponsored $100,000 Prize for Literature. One is ashamed not because of the quality of thinking exhibited by these self-identified writers, but by the atrocious grasp of grammar revealed in pretending to decide what is and isn't great writing.
If, as a writer, you are incapable of producing decent sentence or coherent criteria in measuring the Art of your "fellow writers," shouldn't you be more concerned about that deficiency? It's ironic that you find it convenient to ridicule others for poor-quality production when you are the actual victim.
Unfortunately, some of these entitled clowns and bitter failures masquerading as literary purists and critics, are only reacting to the absence of their friends and mentors in the grand contest. It's a proxy war the puppets clearly don't get.
If your literary gods fail to make the long-list, or now the short-list, it's only because the prize isn't their birthright. And if you're out to caricature the prize, at least enable your brains and come up with critically sound arguments in assessing the crafts. It's possible you're not sufficiently schooled to appreciate a diversity of styles, programmed to see your local champion of a mentor or friend as the standard.
Well, you don't need a book to be a writer, you only need it to be an author. And what's the essence of producing hurriedly-stapled papers that hardly get beyond the shore of your father's or girlfriend's residence?
It's easy to write. I can finish a novel in a month or less, but God has not tasked me with torturing any innocent soul. Don't let the applause in your locality mislead you. Hone your skills, write, rewrite and edit. And even when you are about to declare yourself master of the game, contact a real editor to deflate your ego. Often, a writer is only as good as the dedication of his editors.
One of my model writers Arundathi Roy has, until 2017, only a book. She produced her second book after twenty years. During what you may call her "hiatus," she didn't stop being a writer, she was writing, columns and being human(e) - an activist. She didn't let the Booker Prize hype and her readers' never-ending praises fool her to rush. Her new book is not a disappointment. With just one book, she became a model for your mentors with 15 books and yet known only in their Local Government.
In Nigeria, among my contemporaries, one of my favourite writers is Oris Aigbokhaevbolo. He doesn't have a book. But believe me, it may take your mentor a lifetime to produce a sentence as decent as what this maverick crafts. Whether effortfully or not, at least he writes intelligently. It amuses me that my "non-writer" friends - functioning in banks, hospitals, and state bureaucracy - write better than these self-admitted prolific great writers.

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