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Booker Prize 2021 Shortlist: ‘Absorbing Global Stories Of Life And Death’

Booker Prize

Booker Prize 2021 shortlist: ‘Absorbing global stories of life and death’

Novels set in Sri Lanka and South Africa, Cardiff Bay and the outer cosmos are among those to have been nominated for this year’s Booker Prize.

The chair of the judges said choosing the six “immersive” books had felt “transporting in a year when so many of us have been confined to home”.

The list includes three American writers and, for the second year in a row, only one British author.

The longlisted authors who missed out included Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro.

The novelists who did make the cut include Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer Richard Powers and Damon Galgut, from South Africa, who has been nominated for the Booker twice before.

The prestigious British-based £50,000 award is open to any authors writing in English, and the scarcity of UK authors was “just a coincidence”, according to one judge.

“While judging the Booker Prize we look at not just what the writers are saying but how they are saying it, and therefore nationalities do not really matter,” said Chigozie Obioma, who is on the panel six years after being shortlisted twice himself.

Last year, the sole British representative, Douglas Stuart, went on to win. This year, British-Somali Nadifa Mohamed is nominated for her third novel The Fortune Men.

The nominees in full:

Anuk Arudpragasam – A Passage North. In his second novel, the Sri Lankan author explores the lasting effects of the trauma and violence of his country’s civil war, and a past love affair. “We felt that he was taking on with great seriousness this question of, how can you grasp the present, while also trying to make sense of the past?” said judge Horatia Harrod.
Damon Galgut – The Promise. The South African writer’s ninth novel follows a white family over the decades from the Apartheid era. “The ultimate question that the novel asks is, is justice – true justice – possible in this world?” Obioma said. “If it is, then what might that look like?”

Patricia Lockwood – No One Is Talking About This. This is the first novel by the American poet and memoirist. It follows a woman catapulted to social media fame, told using what Booker judge Rowan Williams described as the “unpromising medium of online prattle”. When reality impinges on this online existence, it ends up being a story “with intense, emotional energy and truthfulness”, he said.

Nadifa Mohamed – The Fortune Men. Mohamed was born in Somaliland and raised in Britain, and her book is set in the docks of post-war Cardiff Bay. It fictionalises the story of Mahmood Mattan, a real Somali sailor who was wrongly accused of murder. “This is a story about the past that has great significance for the present,” said judging chair Maya Jasanoff.

Richard Powers – Bewilderment. The US author won the Pulitzer for his last novel The Overstory. Here, a widowed astrobiologist turns to experimental treatments to help his nine-year-old son with additional needs – and take him to other planets. It is “a clarion call for us all to wake up and realise what our minds might be truly capable of if we were less obedient to the status quo,” judge Natascha McElhone said.

Maggie Shipstead – Great Circle. Another American author, Shipstead’s third novel intertwines the stories of a daring post-war female pilot and a 21st century Hollywood actress who is trying to rescue her reputation by making a film about her. It “speaks to ever-present questions about freedom and constraints, particularly in women’s lives”, Jasanoff said.
Jasanoff explained: “Our shortlist is immersive – stories that you can get absorbed in, voices that get inside your head, which feels quite reflective of the experience of reading in lockdown.

“Our shortlist is global – in their authors and their settings – which feels transporting in a year when so many of us have been confined to home.

“And our shortlist engages with matters of life and death, which feels quite poignant and pertinent in this catastrophic year.

Education

2024 UTME notification slip ready for printing – JAMB

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has directed candidates, who registered for the 2024 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) to print their notification slips for examination.
The board disclosed this in a statement in Abuja on Thursday by its Spokesperson, Dr Fabian Benjamin.
He said the 2024 UTME notification slip, which showed the date, venue and time of their examination, was ready for printing.
“All candidates, who have registered for the 2024 UTME scheduled to start on Friday, April 19, are urged to print their notification slips before the date.
“This is for them to know the date, venue and time of their respective examinations as well as some other vital information.
“To print the slip, candidates are to visit the JAMB website: www.jamb.gov.ng; click on “2024 UTME Slip Printing”, input their registration number, then click on print.
“The slip can be printed anywhere provided there is an internet-enabled computer,” he said.
He added that to successfully sit the examination, candidates were advised to print on or before Friday, 19th April.
This he explained was to enable them locate the venue of their centre, to prevent lateness on their scheduled examination date.
Recall that the 2024 UTME is scheduled to start on Friday, April 19 and end on Monday, April 29.
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Education

Tinubu appoints management team, education loan fund

President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of the three qualified Nigerians to serve on the management team of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELFUND).

A statement issued on Friday by Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity) said the appointment is in line with the president’s determination to secure Nigeria’s socio-economic future by ensuring sustainable higher education and critical skill development for all Nigerian students and the youth.

Those appointed are;

(1) Mr. Akintunde Sawyerr – Managing Director/CEO

(2) Mr. Frederick Oluwafemi Akinfala – Executive Director, Finance and Administration

(3) Mr. Mustapha Iyal – Executive Director, Operations

With the appointment of the management team, the President expects that the necessary apparatuses are expeditiously put in place for the effective take-off of this pivotal Fund for the immediate and lasting benefit of Nigerian students and families in all parts of the country.

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Education

Ekiti targets zero percent out-of-school children, says Gov Oyebanji at EKSU convocation

Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, has restated the commitment of his administration to ensuring that every child in the state has access to quality and compulsory education, noting that education remains a weapon in ensuring social, political, and economic growth of any society.

Governor Oyebanji made this known on Wednesday at the 28th convocation ceremony of the Ekiti state university, Ado Ekiti just as the newly inducted Chancellor of the University, Dr Tunji Olowolafe, announced a one billion naira agribusiness empowerment fund for products of the institution as a way to boost agriculture and food security.

Governor Oyebanji who attended the EKSU convocation as the first alumnus of the school to become Governor of the state and Visitor to the University, said his government remains committed to ensuring that educational institutions in the state were capable of competing with their peers globally.

Governor Oyebanji said his administration has demonstrated commitment to development of education sector from primary to tertiary institutions which include renovation of more than 200 secondary schools, distribution of laptops to students across the state, disbursement bursary and scholarship to students of Ekiti origin in tertiary institutions of learning including Law School, increment of subvention to all state owned tertiary institutions, among others.

Recalling that Ekiti was recently ranked as the highest in school enrollment in the country, the Governor assured that his government would continue to ensure the state has zero percent out-of-school children across the country.

While appreciating the University’s governing council and management for being a partner in progress, the Governor called for more conscious, creative, ingenious and concerted development of strategies for generating additional funds so as to reduce dependence on government subventions.

Governor Oyebanji also urged the University management to justify the increase in their subvention by showing greater commitment to work, avoid incessant strike actions, and allow for smooth running of the academic calendar so that students were not unduly delayed.

While congratulating the graduands, Oyebanji charged them to always remember to give back to their alma-mata.

“We are gathered here today to celebrate scholarship, success, and the result of hard work. As we all know, education remains a weapon in ensuring social, political, and economic growth in any society.

“This is why we will continue to support the education sector. We are committed to ensuring our educational institutions are of the highest standards that can compete globally.

“A demonstration of this commitment can be seen in our various interventions in the sector from primary to tertiary institutions. It is, therefore, a thing of pride to note that Ekiti is ranked one of the highest in school enrollment in Nigeria and one of the states with the least out-of-school children with 2.5%. We are working hard to ensure we have 0% out-of-school children in our state.

“Just a few months ago, we increased the subventions to all Ekiti State – owned tertiary institutions, including the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital significantly.

“As much as the government is ready to continue to play its part in the funding of tertiary education of the state, the university must find ways and means of supplementing whatever the government is able to give.

“There must be conscious, creative, ingenious, and concerted development of strategies for generating additional funds so as to reduce dependence on government subventions”. The Governor stated.

Earlier, in his address, the newly inaugurated Chancellor of the University, Dr. Tunji Olowolafe, who appreciated the Governor for the opportunity to serve, pledged his unflinching commitment to the growth and development of the institution.

Dr. Olowolafe, a trained medical doctor turned businessman announced a one billion naira innovation fund to empower agro-technology companies founded by the latest graduands and current students of the institution.

This is in addition to the establishment of an endowment agenda to offer support and subsidies for up to 30 academic staff members so as to facilitate their participation in international conferences, training sessions, and research activities as well as creation of a platform for 100 of the brightest students from EKSU to engage in resourceful and sustainable work for skills acquisition and development.

Dr Olowolafe noted that it has become imperative for graduates and undergraduates in Nigeria to get actively involved in activities geared towards supporting food security , innovation and strategic entrepreneurship in the current circumstance.

He suggested that students take land lease arrangements for agricultural purposes adding that special awards could also be given to outstanding agriculture entrepreneurs in addition to academic honours.

“Mr. Vice Chancellor sir, as we give awards to best academic students, we can also give awards to best agro entrepreneurs on campus. Some can do grains while others do vegetables. Some can do poultry whilst others can do fisheries. Some can even do logistics whilst others do apps.”
He stated.

He urged the graduands and undergraduates to endeavour to take a needs assessment of their environments to see resources that could be tapped into emphasising that youths need to think wider than their narrow fields of study.

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