The shortlist for the £10,000 Caine Prize for African Writing, announced today, features two writers from South Africa - Ken Barris and Alex Smith - plus Lily Mabura from Kenya, Namwali Serpel from Zambia and Olufemi Terry from Sierra Leone.
The Caine Prize, now in its 11th year, is often known as the 'African Booker' and is regarded as Africa's leading literary award. Unlike the Man Booker and Arabic Booker (ie International Prize for Arabic Fiction, IPAF) it is open not to novels but to short stories, of 3,000 to 10,000 words.
The shortlist was drawn up from 115 entries from 13 African countries. The winner will be annouced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, on Monday 5 July. The shortlisted writers will read from their work at the Royal Over-Seas League on Friday 2 July at 7pm, and at the London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre on Sunday 4 July at 1pm.
Barris is shortlisted for "The Life of Worm" from "New Writing from Africa 2009" (Johnson & King James Books, Cape Town); Mabura for "How Shall We Kill the Bishop?" from Wasafiri No 53, Spring 2008; Serpel for "Muzungu" from "The Best American Short Stories 2009" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston MA); Smith for "Soulmates" from "New Writing from Africa 2009", and Terry for "Stickfighting Days" from Chimurenga vol 12/13 (Cape Town, 2008).
The panel is judges is chaired by Fiammetta Rocco, literary editor of The Economist. The other judges are Granta deputy editor Ellah Allfrey, Professor Jon Cook of the University of East Anglia and Georgetown University Professor Samantha Pinto.
Once again the winner of the prize will be given the opportunity of spending a month at Georgetown University in Washington DC as 'Caine Prize/Georgetown University Writer-in-Residence', with all travel and living expenses covered.
Last year the prize was won by Nigerian writer EC Osondu for his story "Waiting". Previous winners include Monica Arac de Nyeko for "Jambula Tree" and Zimbabwean Brian Chickwava, whose debut novel "Harare North" was recently published by Jonathan Cape.