UEA student sees novel written on her phone shortlisted for award
- Credit: KC Ogundele
Nigerian first time novelist Ayobami Adebayo, who moved to Norwich to study in 2014, has seen her debut Stay with Me shortlisted for the prestigious Wellcome Book Prize 2018.
Former University of East Anglia student Ayobami Adebayo has been shortlisted for the prestigious Wellcome Book Prize 2018 for her debut novel Stay with Me.
The Wellcome Book Prize celebrates the best new books – novels and non-fiction – that show the many ways in which medicine, health and illness touch our lives.
On a shortlist list of six titles exploring our relationship with mortality, Stay With Me is the only novel and Adebayo is one four debut authors in contention.
Adebayo decided to move to Norwich and study on the international renowned Creative Writing (MA Prose fiction) at the UEA in 2014 after a workshop with well established fellow Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
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From that she was inspired to take her writing seriously and she started writing Stay with Me on her phone until the idea became so big she left her job.
The result is her heart-breaking debut Stay with Me that offers an insight into fertility, family and the devastating effects of sickle-cell disease in 1980s Nigeria.
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The novel has won widespread acclaim from critics. A review in the Guardian raved: 'Her clever and funny take on domestic life and Nigerian society is a welcome addition to her country's burgeoning literary scene…a bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit, as well as the damage done by the boundlessness of male pride.
As well as the Wellcome Book Prize it was also longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.
Artist and writer Edmund de Waal, who is chair of the Wellcome Book Prize 2018 judging panel, said of Stay With Me: 'It is a remarkable and turbulent novel that sweeps the reader into the heartbreak of infertility and societal expectation. It is funny and heartbreaking in turn, and I loved it.'
The other books shortlisted are The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris; With the End in Mind by British writer Kathryn Mannix; To Be a Machine by Mark O'Connell; Mayhem: A Memoir by Sigrid Rausing; and The Vaccine Race by Meredith Wadman.