The five-writer shortlist for the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced by Chair of judges, award winning author, poet and editor, Nii Ayikwei Parkes. The list includes a former Caine Prize shortistee and features a story translated form Arabic for the second time in the 18 year history of the Prize.
Nii Parkes said the shortlist ‘reveals the depth and strength of short story writing from Africa and its diaspora.’
‘This year’s submissions were a pleasure to read; we were all impressed by the quality and imaginative ambition of the work received. Indeed, there were a dozen stories that did not make the shortlist that would win other competitions.’
He continued, ‘there seemed to be a theme of transition in many of the stories. Whether it’s an ancient myth brought to life in a contemporary setting, a cyber attack-triggered wave of migration and colonisation, an insatiable quest for motherhood, an entertaining surreal ride that hints at unspeakable trauma, or the loss of a parent in the midst of a personal identity crisis, these writers juxtapose future, past and present to ask important questions about the world we live in.’
‘Although they range in tone from the satirical to the surreal, all five stories on this year’s shortlist are unrelentingly haunting. It has been a wonderful journey so far and we look forward to selecting a winner. It will be a hard job, but I’ve always believed that you can’t go wrong with a Ghanaian at the helm of an international panel.’
The 2017 shortlist comprises:
- Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria) for ‘Who Will Greet You At Home’ published in The New Yorker (USA. 2015)
- Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria) for ‘Bush Baby’ published in African Monsters, eds. Margarét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas (Fox Spirit Books, USA. 2015)
- Read ‘Bush Baby’
- Bushra al-Fadil (Sudan) for ‘The Story of the Girl whose Birds Flew Away’, translated by Max Shmookler, published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction eds. Raph Cormack & Max Shmookler (Comma Press, UK. 2016)
- Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) for ‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’ published in A Public Space 24 (A Public Space Literary Projects Inc., USA. 2016)
- Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa) for ‘The Virus’ published in The Harvard Review 49 (Houghton Library Harvard University, USA. 2016)
- Read ‘The Virus’
The full panel of judges joining Nii Ayikwei Parkes includes the 2007 Caine Prize winner, Monica Arac de Nyeko; accomplished author and Chair of the English Department at Georgetown University, Professor Ricardo Ortiz; Libyan author and human rights campaigner, Ghazi Gheblawi; and distinguished African literary scholar, Dr Ranka Primorac, University of Southampton.
The winner of the £10,000 prize will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner at Senate House Library, London, in partnership with SOAS, on Monday 3 July. Each shortlisted writer will also receive £500.
Each of these stories will be published in New Internationalist’s 2017 Caine Prize anthology The Goddess of Mwtara and Other Stories in June and through co-publishers in 16 African countries, who receive a print-ready PDF free of charge.
Notes to Editors
The Caine Prize of £10,000 is awarded annually for a short story by an African writer published in English (indicative length 3,000 to 10,000 words). An African writer is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or who has a parent who is African by birth or nationality. Shortlisted writers receive £500 each.
The Prize, awarded for African creative writing, is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years.
The African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wole Soyinka and J M Coetzee, are Patrons of The Caine Prize. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is President of the Council, Ben Okri OBE is Vice President, Dr Delia Jarrett-Macauley is the Chairperson, Adam Freudenheim is the Deputy Chairperson and Dr Lizzy Attree is the Director.
Previous winners are: Sudan’s Leila Aboulela (2000); Nigerian Helon Habila (2001); Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina (2002); Kenyan Yvonne Owuor (2003); Zimbabwean Brian Chikwava (2004); Nigerian Segun Afolabi (2005); South African Mary Watson (2006); Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007); South African Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008); Nigerian EC Osondu (2009); Sierra Leonean Olufemi Terry (2010); Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo (2011); Nigerian Rotimi Babatunde (2012); Nigerian Tope Folarin (2013); Kenyan Okwiri Oduor (2014); Zambian Namwali Serpell (2015); and South African Lidudumalingani (2016).
The five shortlisted stories, alongside the 11 stories written at the Caine Prize annual workshop in Tanzania, are published by New Internationalist (UK); ‘amaBooks (Zimbabwe), FEMRITE (Uganda), Gadsden Publishers (Zambia), Huza Press (Rwanda), Interlink (USA), Jacana Media (South Africa), Kwani? (Kenya), Mkuki na Nyota (Tanzania), Lantern Books (Nigeria), Redsea Cultural Foundation (Somaliland, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan and UAE) and Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana).
The Caine Prize is principally supported by The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, The Miles Morland Foundation, The Carnegie Corporation, the Booker Prize Foundation, Sigrid Rausing & Eric Abraham, The Wyfold Charitable Trust, the Royal Over-Seas League and John and Judy Niepold. Other funders and partners include, The British Council, Georgetown University (USA), The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, The van Agtmael Family Charitable Fund, Rupert and Clare McCammon, Adam and Victoria Freudenheim, Arindam Bhattacherjee and other generous donors.
SOAS, University of London, is the world’s leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Founded in 1916, SOAS is celebrating its centenary year 2016-2017. The 2017 Caine Prize Award Dinner will be held in partnership with the Centre for African Studies and SOAS as part of the centenary celebrations.
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