Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Caine Prize 2014 judging panel announced

Jackie Kay

The chair of the judges of this year's £10,000 Caine Prize for African Writing is the prize-winning Edinburgh-born Nigerian-Scottish poet, novelist and short story writer Jackie Kay MBE the prize organisers announced today. The Prize is awarded for a short story of 3,000 to 10,000 words by an African writer, published in English. Kay is joined on the panel by the distinguished South African-born novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo, Zimbabwean journalist Percy Zvomuya, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Georgetown Dr Nicole Rizzuto and Nigerian winner of the Caine Prize in 2001, Helon Habila.

Gillian Slovo

This is the second time that a past winner of the Caine Prize will take part in the judging. Last year the judges included the Sudanese-Egyptian writer Leila Aboulela, who won the Caine in its inaugural year, 2000.

This year a record 140 qualifying stories have been submitted to the judges from 17 African countries. This is a big increase from last year, when there were 96 stories from 16 countries. In 2012 there were 122 stories from 14 countries, and in 2011 126 entries from 17 countries.

The judges are to meet in late April to decide on the five shortlisted stories, which will be announced shortly thereafter. Unlike some other prizes in the Booker-linked family of literary prizes, such as the Man Booker Prize and the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), Caine non-winning shortlistees  receive no cash. But this year, to commemorate fifteen years of the Caine Prize, £500 will be awarded to each shortlisted writer.

The winning story will  be announced at a dinner at the Bodleian Library in Oxford on Monday 14 July. The five shortlisted stories, alongside the stories written at the annual Caine Prize workshop, will as always be published as an anthology by the publishers New Internationalist (UK), Jacana Media (South Africa), Cassava Republic (Nigeria), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE (Uganda), Bookworld Publishers (Zambia) and amaBooks (Zimbabwe). This year’s Caine Prize workshop will be held in Zimbabwe. The 2013 workshop was for the first time hosted by Uganda.

Included in the 2013 anthology A Memory This Size and Other Stories is the story by last year’s Nigerian winner, Tope Folarin. Chair of judges Gus Casely-Hayford said at the time: "Tope Folarin's 'Miracle' is another superb Caine Prize winner - a delightful and beautifully paced narrative, that is exquisitely observed and utterly compelling..."

The Caine Prize for African 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. An “African writer” is normally taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or whose parents are African.

 The Prize is principally supported by The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, Miles Morland, the Booker Prize Foundation, Sigrid Rausing and Eric Abraham, Weatherly International plc, China Africa Resources, Exotix and CSL Stockbrokers. Other funders include the DOEN Foundation, The Beit Trust, British Council, The Lennox and Wyfold Foundation, the Royal Over-Seas League and Kenya Airways.

 The African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wole Soyinka, Nadine Gordimer 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, Jonathan Taylor CBE is the Chairman and Ellah Allfrey OBE is the Deputy Chairperson.

The 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) and Nigerian Tope Folarin (2013).
Susannah Tarbush

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