Nigerian writer Anietie Isong wins UK prize with debut novel

Anietie Isong PHOTO: Tom Pilston

Nigerian writer Anietie Isong has won 2018 McKitterick Prize with his debut novel Radio Sunrise, making him the first Nigerian to do so since its establishment in 1990.

The McKitterick Prize is awarded for a first novel by a writer over 40, the Society of Authors said.

“I wrote Radio Sunrise to help draw attention to a myriad of issues in Nigeria, and I am thrilled that this resonated with the judges,” Isong said.

Speaking at the event which took place at the Royal Institute of British Architects Aamer Hussein, the prize judge and fellow of the Royal Society of Literature extolled Anietie’s distinct writing.

Aamer said “It’s a particular pleasure to discover the original, intriguing voice of Anietie Isong. In his brief, deftly told Radio Sunrise, the author depicts his often-hapless protagonist’s sexual mishaps and political travails on a journey to his hometown with a unique blend of humour and poignancy. An intriguing and accomplished new novelist.”

Apart from receiving the £4000 prize money, he has won several writing prizes including the Commonwealth Short Story Award and the inaugural Olaudah Equiano Prize for Fiction.

Radio Sunrise is a hilarious yet sobering satirical portrait of Nigeria that fully deserves a place amongst the great works of ‘post-post-colonial’ African literature.


Anietie Isong started his career as a journalist with Radio Nigeria, in Lagos before relocating to the United Kingdom. There, he studied at the University of Leicester.

His short stories have been published in journals and broadcast on the BBC and Radio Nigeria and in 2009, his short story Devotion was selected as one of the exciting new stories from the next generation of English short story writers and published in the anthology Roads Ahead, edited by Catherine O’Flynn.

He has also been invited to speak at the Marlborough Literature Festival in the UK, in September.