The five-writer shortlist for the £10,000 Caine Prize for African Writing 2016 was today announced by the chair of this year's judges, writer and academic Delia Jarrett-Macauley. The judges' chair described the finalised entries as "an engrossing, well-crafted and dauntless pack of stories. The high standard of the entries was clear throughout and particularly noteworthy was the increasing number of fantasy fictions, with the sci-fi trend resonating in several excellent stories...The panel is proud to have shortlisted writers from across the continent, finding stories that are compelling, well-crafted and thought-provoking.’"
The shortlist comprises Abdul Adan (Somalia/Kenya); Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria); Tope Folarin (Nigeria); Bongani Kona (Zimbabwe), and Lidudumalingani (South Africa). It includes a former Caine Prize winner (Tope Folarin, in 2013) and a former regional winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The Caine winner will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner at the Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, on Monday 4 July. In addition to the £10,000 prize, each shortlisted writer will receive £500.
This year a record 166 short stories from writers representing 23 African countries were entered for the Prize, a marked increase from last year's 153 qualifying stories from 17 countries.
the stories and their authors
Abdul Adan (Somalia/Kenya) is shortlisted for ‘The Lifebloom Gift’ published in The Gonjon Pin and Other Stories: The Caine Prize for African Writing 2014 (New Internationalist, United Kingdom, 2014). His work has appeared in African magazines Kwani, Jungle Jim, Gambit, Okike, Storytime and elsewhere. He was a participant in the 2014 Caine Prize workshop in Zimbabwe, and is a founding member of the Jalada collective.
o Read ‘The Lifebloom Gift’
Lesley Nneka Arimah
Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria) is shortlisted for ‘What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky’ published in Catapult (Catapult, USA, 2015). A Nigerian writer living in Minneapolis, her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s and other publications. When she isn't spreading peace and joy on Twitter, Arimah is at work on a collection of short stories (What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky) forthcoming in 2017 from Riverhead Books. There are rumours about a novel.
o Read ‘What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky’
Tope Folarin (Nigeria) is shortlisted for ‘Genesis’ published in Callaloo (Johns Hopkins University Press, USA, 2014. He won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013, and in 2014 he was named in the Africa39 list of the most promising African writers under 39. In addition, his work has been published in various anthologies and journals. He lives in Washington DC.
o Read ‘Genesis’
Bongani Kona (Zimbabwe) is shortlisted for ‘At Your Requiem’ published in Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You (Burnet Media, South Africa, 2015). He is a freelance writer and contributing editor of Chimurenga. His writing has appeared in Mail and Guardian, Rolling Stone (South Africa), Sunday Times and other publications and websites. He is also enrolled as a Masters student in the Creative Writing department at the University of Cape Town.
o Read ‘At Your Requiem’·
Lidudumalingani (South Africa) for ‘Memories We Lost’ published in Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You (Burnet Media, South Africa, 2015). He is a writer, filmmaker and photographer, and was born in the village of Zikhovane in Eastern Cape province. Lidudumalingani has published short stories, non-fiction and criticism in several publications. His films have been screened at various film festivals.
o Read ‘Memories We Lost’
an inspiring degree of risk-takingDelia Jarrett-Macauley's co-judges are acclaimed film, television and theatre actor, Adjoa Andoh; writer and founding member of the Nairobi-based writers’ collective, Storymoja, and founder of the Storymoja Festival, Muthoni Garland; Associate Professor and Director of African American Studies at Georgetown University, Washington DC, Dr Robert J Patterson; and South African writer and 2006 Caine Prize winner, Mary Watson.
Jarrett-Macauley said her fellow judges "commented on the pleasure of reading the stories, the gift of being exposed to the exciting short fictions being produced by African writers today and the general shift away from politics towards more intimate subjects – though recent topics such as the Ebola crisis were being wrestled with.’
She added: ‘It was inspiring to note the amount of risk-taking in both subject matter and style, wild or lyrical voices matching the tempered measured prose writers, and stories tackling uneasy topics, ranging from an unsettling, unreliable narrator’s tale of airport scrutiny, to a science-fictional approach towards the measurement of grief, a young child’s coming to grips with family dysfunction, the big drama of rivalling siblings and the silent, numbing effects of loss.’
Caine Prize anthology 2015
The five shortlisted stories will be published in New Internationalist’s Caine Prize 2016 Anthology in July, and through co-publishers across Africa, who receive a print-ready PDF free of charge from New Internationalist. In addition to the shortlisted stories, the anthology will include stories written at the Caine Prize workshop held in Zambia in March this year.
The co-publishers of the anthology are New Internationalist (UK), Jacana Media (South Africa), Lantern Books (United States), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE (Uganda), Bookworld Publishers (Zambia), Langaa Research and Publishing (Cameroon) and amaBooks (Zimbabwe).
The Caine Prize, awarded annually 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 Prize is awarded 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.
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, Jonathan Taylor CBE is the Chairman, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey OBE is the Deputy Chairperson and Dr Lizzy Attree is the Director.
Susannah Tarbush, London