Tuesday, April 26, 2005

caine prize shortlist


shortlisted writer Jamal Mahjoub



Caine Prize shortlist announced

The shortlist for this year's Caine Prize for African Writing, announced last week, includes the Sudanese-English writer Jamal Mahjoub. Mahjoub is the author of five novels including the acclaimed Travelling With Djinns published in 2003.

Although the Caine Prize was in 2000, its first year, won by Sudanese-Egyptian writer Leila Aboulela for her story The Museum, very few writers from Arab Africa have made the shortlist since then, so Mahjoub's appearance is particularly welcome.

The shortlisted writers will be invited to London for a round of events related to the prize, and on 4 July the winner will be announced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

The $15,000 prize is awarded for a short story by an African writer, published in English, of between 3,000 and 15,000 words. Mahjoub is shortlisted for the story The Obituary Tango, published in the special summer 2004 20th anniversary issue of Wasifiri magazine.

Wasifiri's spring 2004 issue is the source of another shortlisted story, Monday Morning by the Nigerian S A Afolabi. The Nigerian Helon Habila won the Caine in 2001 and Nigerian writers have often featured on the Caine shortlist. They include also this year Ike Okonta, whose story Tindi in the Land of the Dead was published in Humanitas, the journal of George Bell Institute, Queen's College of Birmingham, England.

For the first time, a writer is shortlisted for the second year in a row. She is Doreen Baingana of Uganda, whose story Tropic Fish appeared in African American Review in 2003. The fifth shortlisted writer is South African Mutual Naidoo for the story Jailbirds from Botsotso, Botsotso Publishing 2004.

Baroness Emma Nicholson established the Caine Prize in memory of her late husband, Sir Michael Caine, who was the former chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years. Baroness Nicholson is the president of the Council of the Caine Prize.

The chairman of this year's panel of judges, Baroness Lola Young, a member of the House of Lords, said: "The entries for this year's Caine Prize for African Writing are a rich mixture - everything from folk to urban grit. The shortlist encompasses a variety of styles and perspectives and represents a really good read."

The other judges are Professor of English at Howard University in the US Victoria Arana, Sri Lankan novelist Romesh Gunesekera and senior lecturer in African Literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, Dr Nana Wilson-Tagoe.

Susannah Tarbush
Saudi Gazette April 26 2005

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