Thursday, February 14, 2013

judges of 2013 caine prize for african writing announced

The judges of the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing were announced today. The chair of the judges' panel is art historian and broadcaster Dr Gus Casely-Hayford.

 Dr Gus Casely-Hayford

The judges include the Sudanese-Egyptian writer Leila Aboulela, who won the Caine Prize in its inaugural year, 2000. "This is the first time that a past winner of the £10,000 Caine Prize will take part in the judging" a statement from The Caine Prize notes.  Aboulela went on to have a distinguished literary, broadcasting and creative writing teaching career; her third novel Lyrics Alley appeared in 2011.

Leila Aboulela

The other judges are the Nigerian-born artist Sokari Douglas Camp; author, columnist and the Lord Northcliffe Emeritus Professor at University Collge London, John Sutherland, and Assistant Professor at Georgetown University, Nathan Hensley

This year 96 qualifying stories have been submitted from 16 African countries. This is a decrease in number of entries, from 122 in the 2012 shortlist, but the number of countries is up from 14. In 2011 there were 126 entries from 17 countries. The judges will meet in early May to decide on the shortlisted stories, which will be announced shortly thereafter. The winning story will be announced at a dinner at the Bodleian Library, Oxford University,  on Monday 8 July.

The five shortlisted stories, together with stories written at the Caine Prize workshops are published annually by New Internationalist (UK), Jacana Media (South Africa), Cassava Republic (Nigeria), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE (Uganda), Bookworld Publishers (Zambia) and ‘amaBooks (Zimbabwe).

Included in the 2012 anthology, African Violet, are the stories by last year’s winner, Nigerian writer Rotimi Babatunde and the four other shortlisted authors. Rotimi Babatunde won for Bombay's Republic; Billy Kahora of Kenya was shortlisted for Urban Zoning; Stanley Kenani of Malawi for  Love on Trial; Melissa Tandiwe Myambo of Zimbabwe for  La Salle de D├ępart; and Constance Myburgh (the pen name of Jenna Bass) of South Africa for Hunter Emmanuel.

Chair of judges Bernardine Evaristo said of the winning story “Bombay's Republic vividly describes the story of a Nigerian soldier fighting in the Burma campaign of World War Two. It is ambitious, darkly humorous and in soaring, scorching prose exposes the exploitative nature of the colonial project and the psychology of Independence.”

The Caine 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. The Prize is awarded for a short story by an African writer published in English of 3,000 to 10,000 words. 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 African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wole Soyinka, Nadine Gordimer and J M Coetzee, are Patrons of The Caine Prize, as is Chinua Achebe, winner of the Man Booker International 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 Caine Prize is sponsored principally by The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, the Booker Prize Foundation, Weatherly International plc, China Africa Resources, CSL Stockbrokers and Miles Morland. Other funders include the British Council, The Beit Trust, The Thistle Trust, the Royal Overseas League and Kenya Airways.

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