Three Nigerian writers have been shortlisted for the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing.
The writers are Nonyelum Ekwempu for her story ‘American Dream’ published in Red Rock Review (2016) and republished in The Anthem (2016), Olufunke Ogundimu for ‘The Armed Letter Writers’ published in The New Orleans Review (The African Literary Hustle, 2017) and Wole Talabi for ‘Wednesday’s Story’ published in Lightspeed Magazine (2016).
The five-writer shortlist also includes Kenya’s Makena Onjerika for her story ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’ and South Africa’s Stacy Hardy for her ‘Involution.’
Unveiling the shortlist, award-winning Ethiopian-American author, Dinaw Mengestu who chairs the panel of judges said: “The best short stories have a subtle, almost magical quality to them. They can contain through the rigour of their imagination and the care of their prose more than just a glimpse into the complicated emotional, political, and social fabric of their characters’ lives. The stories submitted for this year’s Caine Prize contained worlds within them, and nothing was perhaps as remarkable as finding that in story after story, writers across the continent and in the diaspora had laid waste to the idea that certain narratives belonged in the margins.”
Mengestu, a former Lannan Foundation Chair in Poetics at Georgetown University, also added that “The politics and aesthetics of gender, sexuality, corruption and silence were a constant presence throughout many of the stories submitted, particularly those on our shortlist. These five remarkable narratives are proof that nowhere is the complexity and diversity of Africa and African lives more evident than in the stories we tell.”
Other members of the 2018 judging panel chaired by Mengestu are: South African author and winner of the 2008 Caine Prize, Henrietta Rose-Innes; -winning author and Director of the Ake Arts and Books Festival, Lola Shoneyin, award; and a Zanzibar-born international journalist, political analyst and essayist, Ahmed Rajab.
Launched in 2000 to encourage and highlight the richness and diversity of African writing by bringing it to a wider audience internationally, the Caine Prize for African Writing is a literature prize awarded to an African writer of a short story published in English.
The Prize 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. Awarded annually for African creative writing, the focus on the short story reflects the contemporary development of the African story-telling tradition. The Prize is awarded for a short story by an African writer indicative length 3,000 to 10,000 words.
The African winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Prof. Wole Soyinka is one of the Patrons of The Caine Prize.
Other Nigerian winners of the Prize in the past include: Helon Habila (2001), Segun Afolabi (2005), EC Osondu (2009), Rotimi Babatunde (2012) and Tope Folarin (2013). Sudanese writer, Bushra al-Fadil, won the prize in 2017.
The winner of the £10,000 prize will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner in the Beveridge Hall at Senate House, SOAS, on Monday 2 July 2018 – in partnership with the Centre for African Studies. Each shortlisted writer will also receive £500.
The shortlisted stories will be published in June in New Internationalist’s 2018 Caine Prize anthology, Redemption Song, and through co-publishers in 16 African countries who receive a print-ready PDF free of charge.