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Monday, November 4, 2013

On Etisalat Flash Fiction Top 20 List

  • ·        Read past related series Here and Here
The Etisalat Flash Fiction Prize contest is winding up. We now have a funny Top 20 list of all the submitted entries. That’s the accident voting can do to organizing a writing prize. A few on the list are worth it though. I can’t help but smh at the others. You would too. Just go and read the Top 20 list yourself.  Now I need some paracetamol. This list is a big joke, save the thin few on it. I have read all the stories on the list, most of them are pain givers. Be careful. There is a killing tepidness on that list. Many of those on the list should not be there, if not for the voting system. Seventeen of the stories are really chokers. I do not exaggerate. Proceed to the list here and see why I said so.

For a good thing though, now we are spared the trouble of the voting combat. With the release of the top 20 stories, life is saner now. My inboxes now breathe fresh away from harassing overtures to vote for pathetic tailless entries. Such is the case when a horde of restless texters are jostling for a writing prize under the genre flash fiction.  God bless the few worthwhile entries among the whole submissions. Unfortunately, most of those few are already snowed under with the voting process.  I pitifully smh again.

When I said here that the voting system was an expensive mistake, many called it a misplaced criticism. The result is now there for all to see on the Top 20 list. Just how far can voting go in awarding literary prizes? This far? Hard as I tried to like many of the pieces on this list, the more frustration. I just wanted to puke right away. The poorness is that so shocking. Only three pieces are really worth it there. Picking the winners should be quite easy. The creative gap between entries in the list is far wide. Just too wide.

I wish I had come across Uche Okonkwo’s “The Neverland” before now. Uche Okonkwo’s “The Neverland” is one of the three shortlisted interesting stories in the pack. I saw the picture she is painting. I was drawn into the world of her characters. Okonkwo should be applauded for seeing her piece to this stage. E no easy, jo. All the campaigning for votes. Her piece is indeed good. I so wish I had reviewed it in the past blogging series. I wish I had been sent a link to the story. In “The Neverland”, you are taken to the infantile world of mischief and affection. Yellow Paw-Paw is drawn to Tade and Tade knows. But the day Tade favours Priscal’s Voltron sharpener over Yellow Pawpaw’s, Tade witnesses the real depth of Yellow Pawpaw affection for him. I like this story.

To avoid repeating myself, I shouldn’t say more on Bassey’s “Dressed Like A Prince”. I already did that here. Go read what I said about it. However, I am moved to comment further. When you see a promising piece, you just know it. If voting was never included in the contest and left to the Judges alone, this piece would still have made it this far. On the Top 20 list, the piece sits there confidently, challenging the other pieces to stare it in the eyes. Bassey wrote the piece good and canvassed well for it. This is one piece you want to vote for over and over again. 

Tee Jay Dan’s “The Seamstress” was also one of the five pieces I already reviewed. “The Seamstress” is another very likely winning entry in the Top 20. Read my earlier review on it here. “The Seamstress” is poetic. It blends poetry well with prose, one thing most common with Shakespeare’s dramaturgy.

And when you read pieces like Jeremiah’s  “Silent Screams”, Obele’s “The Mother’sEnergy; Father’s Allergy”, Kenechukwu’s “The Dead Nurse Who Came For Her Baby”, Collins’ “When Death Is Not Enough”, you really do not want to go on reading the rest on the list. They are that poor. They lack coherence. They are some of the stories not worth the visibility they are having now. I can’t find the stories in them. If you can, please tell me so in the comment box. I will appreciate it. I have nothing to say about them. They are too below par. 

However, some are worth mentioning for their tardy effort. If only Etisalat could organise a workshop, give some good books out to their writers, or just anything to teach them the art of good writing, I think they might improve on their writing. Entries like Igili’s “And I Had Blood In My Hands” Adesina’s “Lost Memoirs”, Fu’ad’s “The Waiting”, Ugochukwu’s “Unforeseen” and Chukwunwogor’s “There’s A Hero in Diaspora” can still be worked on.

I really don’t want to go on. Go read the Top 20 list and tell me what you think.

Follow me on Twitter @omotayome


  1. Thanks for writing this. Now I'll go and read your three. I also like that you suggest a writer's training thing for the top 20. Clearly they have "something" that can be developed.

    Personally, I read one or two (was asked to vote) and I didn't vote because I didn't like the work. Not saying the work was bad, just whatever, made me squirm.

    Sometimes I would read the work of a friend and have a negative reaction. It's a courageous person that can open his/her mouth to say that, let alone blog about it as you've done. Well done.

  2. Of your top three from the top 20, my favourite is The Neverland.
    Now I'll nitpick about the exact right word: Somewhere between "it's Voltron and yes, dear" something doesn't ring true. Maybe it's the "he explained in a whisper." Cut that out.
    "It's Voltron."
    "I had been cornered. 'Yes Dear'"
    something like that.
    The other spot is near the end, I wouldn't use "graciously" but something else e.g. blank.

    The other two are interesting, nice reading: Dressed Like A Prince; and The Seamstress. Fun.

  3. You spoke my mind, of your best, is better a poem than flash fiction..

    The whole thing is just a publicity stunt for Etisalat.

  4. @t. Thanks so much for the encouraging words. There are just so many bad pieces in the contest that one had to blog about it. I respect your view on "The Neverland". Thanks. :)

    @Kukogho. Thanks, bro. Exactly the same way I see the whole voting thing by Etisalat. A dull publicity stunt it is. As for your view of Tee's 'The Seamstress, I hear you. But I like the piece sha. :D

  5. @t: I appreciate your comment on The Neverland, but I also think you didn't quite get it. That part you complain about is perhaps the most brilliant part of the piece. The author's subtlety there is genius. Notice that the words Yes dear are not in quotation in the story. This was not a mistake. What it means is that the words were not spoken out loud. It is the characters vengeful thought process. It is very subtle foreshadowing, the equivalent of snapping your finger and telling someone "we shall see."

    1. Thank you for bringing a fresh view to the discussion on "The Neverland". I love your genuine view on it, it really got me thinking again on the story. Thank you :)

  6. I love this blog. You did a well-balanced review of my work, That Night, sometime ago. Unfortunately I didn't make the Top 20 but I have since moved on. As for the Top 20, if I were asked to select the 3 winning pieces, I would pick Tee Jay Dan's The Seamstress in first place. Uche Okonkwo's The Neverland would be in second place and Nta Bassey's Dressed Like a Prince would be third. These three pieces are so strong that I have no competition from any of the other shortlisted pieces. The worst story on the list for me is Chukwuwengor's There is a Hero in Diaspora. Sounds to me like some stories I wrote when I was in primary school. His story is that bad and yet I saw his post on Etisalat's facebook page claiming that his piece is the best and that was why people voted for it. Peharps, if Etisalat had just got judges for the contest instead of the voting process, he would not have this bloated ego he now has over such a mediocre piece that he wrote.

    1. You are always welcome, bro. It is really a pity that good stories like yours didn't make the Top 20 and some rubbish stories, yeah I said it, rubbish stories!, were packed on the list. I just hope Etisalat does not repeat it again. Even a fufu judge won't come up with that kind of messy drunk list. Victor, abeg keep writing. One day, prizes that recognize creativity will honour your writing skill. Of the list, those three are getting all the prizes, I am sure. That fact is just so glaring to anyone.


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