Happy New Year, No?

It feels so awkward greeting my faithful and relentless blog readers “Happy New Year!” on the last day of January, 2012. I have missed you all, though I could not resist keeping a rather low profile online in the last six weeks. Apart from the need to spend the first month of the year retreating and quietly planning for the journey ahead, I have still struggled with a nagging anti-writing spirit that does not want to leave any time soon. But, all izz well!

We started this year, rudely awakened by the federal government of Nigeria’s removal of fuel subsidy. After a long-drawn battle that claimed precious lives, the citizens did not win a reversal to the initial 65NGN, but a statement had been made: that we as a people can come together with one voice and protest badly-timed and ill-conceived government policies and much more. It is very painful that the blood of some (innocent) protesters got spilled by some trigger-happy policemen…

This post is meant to be a short introduction to 2012, the year when the world is to come to end according speculations by some folks. A sober fact, nevertheless, is that if death knocks on a man’s door today, the world, for him, would come to end at that instant. Therefore, fret not my people! …I have made a few resolutions to live by for the rest of my stay on this planet and I hope to share some of them with you as the year unfolds.

Thanks everyone for being there for me and always checking back. I am grateful for your support in 2011 and hopefully, from now on, I will be much more active in the blogosphere, making comments on other blogs and engaging with other great minds (bloggers) across the various social media platforms. See you very soon, dear friends. Shallom!

Call for entries: Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Commonwealth Writers – a world of new fiction

The Commonwealth Foundation made the call for entries for the new Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The prizes are part of a new initiative, Commonwealth Writers, an online hub to inspire, inform and create a community of writers from all over the world. Together with the prizes, Commonwealth Writers unearths, develops and promotes the best new fiction from across the Commonwealth.

Awarded for best first book, the Commonwealth Book Prize is open to writers who have had their first novel (full length work of fiction) published between 1 January and 31 December 2011. Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £10,000. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000-5000 words). Regional winners receive £1,000 and the overall winner receives £5,000. The winners will be announced in June 2012.

Chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Margaret Busby said “The significance of a prize such as this becomes greater with each year. It is vital to encourage and celebrate the talent of newly emerging novelists whose words have the potential to inspire and enrich the entire literary world. Searching out and promoting the best first books of fiction internationally is a serious task, a great honour and a wonderful challenge.”

Chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Bernardine Evaristo said “This wonderful prize will turn the spotlight on the increasingly popular short story form and aims to support and encourage short story writers worldwide.”

As one of the Commonwealth Foundation’s culture programmes, Commonwealth Writers works in partnership with international literary organisations, the wider cultural industries and civil society to help writers develop their craft. Commonwealth Writers is a forum where members can debate the future of publishing, get advice from established authors and ask questions of our writer in residence.

Commonwealth Foundation Director, Danny Sriskandarajah said “As one of the Commonwealth Foundation’s flagship projects, I’m delighted that we’re putting the prizes firmly on the contemporary map of new writing and launching a dedicated Commonwealth Writers website to extend our global reach.”

Full rules and entry and eligibility information is available at www.commonwealthwriters.org

Closing date for entries:
Commonwealth Book Prize is Friday 9 December 2011 (5pm GMT)
Commonwealth Short Story Prize is Wednesday 30 November 2011 (5pm GMT)

Double Movie Review: Avatar and 2012

Hi friends! Today, for your reading pleasure, I share two quick reviews from Lanre Shonoiki. Have fun and kindly let me know what you think about these two movies by dropping a note. Have fun!

Reviewer:  Lanre Shonoiki

AVATAR (Written and Directed by James Cameron)

A dearth of Oscar nominations notwithstanding, Avatar is a family favourite any day. An entrancing story of a paraplegic war veteran (Jake Sulley), called up to replace his domestically murdered soldier twin brother in a special team stationed on a newly discovered, unsophisticated planet – Pandora. He finds himself on an espionage of some sorts when he gets assigned a tele-connected likeness (Avatar) of the Pandora natives; the Na’vi. Learning their ways, gaining their trust and obtaining secrets key to his superiors’ goals of exploiting mineral resources on Pandora were Sulley’s mission objectives until he fell in love with the heiress of the Na’vi. Torn between being a good German, protecting an innocent race from pillage and staying in a body where he has found love and new legs, Sulley makes the fairer choice, equips the Na’vi with the arms required to help them fight fair, and leads their defense against assault from the humans.

James Cameron’s near perfect writing and directing of this movie has critics yet unconvinced. Many have drawn on the similarity of the Avatar plot to the Pocahontas story (even stressing the consonant J.S. initials of the lead males in both stories), condemning the film as commonplace and unoriginal. But all movies tell stories of experiences already heard of by all someplace, somehow. So, just maybe the quality of movies should be judged on how well the audience is taken in. Avatar steals all hearts here with realistic 3-D effects, lovely soundtracks and just enough emotional intrusion to get the viewer involved. You really should see it if you haven’t… I bet someone already told you that.

2012 (Written by Roland Emmerich and Harald Kloser; Directed by Roland Emmerich)

John Cusack in "2012"

Making movies about cataclysms sure took a new turn here. Unlike precedents such as War of the Worlds and The day After tomorrow, 2012 is much more down-to-earth (literally and figuratively) in tying the causes of the planetary shakedowns it depicts to theories that aren’t too far-fetched. Subtectonic forces resulting from nucleo-gravitational imbalance between the sun and the earth practically bring the world as we know it to an end. Ace geologist, Adrian Helmsley (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) gets warned early by a friend in India and passes the threat up the executive ladder for further work to be carried out on averting the woe. Alas, projections made are not quite on point and disaster strikes earlier than expected. Consequential events are so powerful they tear continents apart, flood the highest mountains, re-unite a hitherto broken home, claim the life of the American President and even send multi-billionaires with pre-arranged escape plans struggling with the helpless but determined masses to claim pre-booked slots on specially constructed survival units called “Arks”. Roland Emmerich puts to best use the bottleneck excitement at the Ark-boarding points, John Cussack’s endearing face, impressive devastation effects, unforgettable characters (the big-mouthed Russian kahuna and Charlie the crazy journalist) and bits of gallows humour here and there. On the whole, 2012 is a blockbuster that shocks the world into initial confusion and final submission, making December 12, 2012 the one day the world would never forget without having even lived it yet.

*Photo credit: http://2012-movie-trailer.blogspot.com