Born in Gombe State, Nigeria, Helon Habila has been referred to by some as the new Wole Soyinka of Nigeria. Like Soyinka, Habila is both a poet and prose-writer, who has achieved international recognition in both genres.
After completing his BA in English at the University of Jos in Nigeria in 1995, Habila took up a job with the Federal Polytechnic in Bauchi, where he lectured in English and Literature between 1997 and 1999. He later moved to Lagos, where he worked for the Vanguard Newspaper as an Arts Editor. In Lagos, Habila’s writing career began to take off. It was there that he won the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON) poetry prize in 2000, for his poem titled “Another Age”.
Further success soon followed. Love Poems, part of a collection of short stories that he first published under the title, Prison Stories won the 2001 Caine Prize for African Writing. The full text of Prison Stories went on to win even more recognition when it was reissued in the UK and USA as Waiting for Angel. The book won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book, Africa Region in 2003.
Between 2002 and 2004, Habila was an African Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia. In 2005, he became the first Chinua Achebe Fellow at Bard College in New York. He later joined George Mason University in 2007 as a member of the Creative Writing Faculty.
Habila’s second novel, Measuring Time won the Library of Virginia Literary Award in 2008, while his most recent work, Oil on Water, made the shortlist for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, Africa Region.
Sources: Author’s Website, BBC, Wikipedia, African Writing, Others
Author’s Website: http://www.helonhabila.com/index.html
Selected Books by Helon Habila
- Oil on Water (2011)
- Measuring Time (2007)
- Waiting for an Angel (2002)