Abubakar Adam Ibrahim has won the Nigeria Prize for Literature 2016 for his novel ‘Season of Crimson Blossoms’, beating Chika Unigwe’s ‘Night Dancer’ and Elnathan John’s ‘Born on a Tuesday’.
The result was announced on Wednesday b the Advisory Board of the Nigeria Prize for Literature at a press conference in Lagos.
Season of Crimson Blossoms is set in conservative Northern Nigeria where the salacious affair between 55-year-old widow Binta Zubairu and a 26-year-old weed dealer and political thug with the very unusual name Hassan ‘Reza’ is bound to cause more than a ripple.
Brought together by some unusual circumstances, both see a need only each other could satisfy. Binta, who before the encounter, is reconciling herself with God, has the need to unshackle herself from the sexual repression that characterised her marriage, and a deprivation that typified her widowhood. But beyond that, there is her desire to redeem herself for the loss of her first son, whose tragic death still haunts her.
And so when the thug, Reza, whose real name not many people remember, arrives with a heart emptied by the absence of a mother who abandoned him when he was few months old, and rekindles Binta’s passions, they strike it off.
As words of his affair with the widow Binta spreads and draws condemnation and social exclusion for Binta, things get to a head when Binta’s rich son confronts the thug with disastrous consequence.
Set in the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria, this story of relationships, and the lack of it, unfurls gently, revealing layers of human emotions and desires.
Born in Jos, North-Central Nigeria, Ibrahim grew up wanting to tell stories.
Eventually, he published his debut short story collection, ‘The Whispering Trees’ (Parresia Publishers, Lagos, 2012) to critical acclaim.
It was long-listed for the inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature and short-listed for the Caine Prize for African Writing.
Season of Crimson Blossoms is his debut novel.
Ibrahim, who is a journalist and Art Editor with Daily Trust newspapers has won the BBC African Performance Playwriting Competition in 2007, the Amatu Braide Prize for Prose in 2008 and is a 2013 Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fellow and a 2015 Civitella Ranieri Fellow.
He is included in the Hay Festival’s Africa 39 (List of the 39 most promising African Writers under the age of 40).
The panel of judges for this year’s prize include chair Prof. Dan Izevbaye, a literary critic and professor of English Language at Bowen University, Iwo; Professor Asabe Usman Kabir, Professor of Oral and African Literatures at Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto and Professor Isidore Diala, a professor of African Literature at Imo State University, Owerri and first winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literary Criticism.
Congratulations Abubakar Adam Ibrahim.