Wednesday, April 23, 2014

shortlist of 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing announced

Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka announces Caine shortlist 
Jackie Kay MBE (photo credit Denise Else)
“Compelling, lyrical, thought-provoking and engaging." This is how the chair of the judges of the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing Jackie Kay MBE summed up this year's five-story shortlist, which was unveiled yesterday . The shortlisted authors are Billy Kahora and Okwiri Oduor (both of Kenya); Diane Awerbuck (South Africa); Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe) and Efemia Chela (Ghana-Zambia). Kahora was previously shortlisted for the Prize in 2012. As so often in previous years, no authors from North Africa feature on the shortlist.

 Wole Soyinka
The shortlist was announced by Nobel Prize winner and Caine Prize Patron Professor Wole Soyinka, as part of the opening ceremonies for the UNESCO World Book Capital 2014 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The other two living African winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature - Nadine Gordimer and J M Coetzee - are also patrons of the Prize.

"From a daughter's unusual way of grieving for her father, to a memorable swim with a grandmother, a young boy's fascination with a gorilla's conversation, a dramatic faux family meeting, to a woman who is forced to sell her eggs, the subjects are as diverse as they are entertaining,” said Jackie Kay, the award-winning Nigerian-Scottish poet and author.

Diane Awerbuck (South Africa) shortlisted for "Phosphorescence"
Diane Awerbuck is shortlisted for "Phosphorescence" from her short-story collection  Cabin Fever (Umuzi, Cape Town. 2011);  Efemia Chela for "Chicken" from the anthology Feast, Famine and Potluck (Short Story Day Africa, South Africa. 2013); Tendai Huchu for "The Intervention" in the quarterly Open Road Review, issue 7, New Delhi. 2013; Billy Kahora for  "The Gorilla's Apprentice" from Granta magazine (London. 2010);  and Okwiri Oduor for "My Father's Head" from Feast, Famine and Potluck.  For the first time an audio version of a shortlisted story is available: Tendai Huchu’s "The Intervention" on Open Road Review. The Caine Prize has posted PDFs and publication details of the shortlisted stories on its website.

judges 'heartened by the many gay narratives'
The Prize is awarded for a short story of 3,000-10,000 words by an African writer published in English.  An “African writer” is defined as 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. This year a record 140 qualifying stories from 17 African countries were submitted to the judges. This was  a major upturn from  2013, 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 judging panel found that “the standard of entries was exceptionally high, so much so that it was actually very difficult for the judges to whittle it down to a shortlist of only five stories," Kay said. "We were heartened by how many entrants were drawn to explorations of a gay narrative. What a golden age for the African short story, and how exciting to see real originality - with so many writers bringing something different to the form."

caine prize marks its 15th year
This year the Caine Prize celebrates its fifteenth anniversary. To mark this milestone, in addition to the £10,000 that will go to the winner each shortlisted writer will receive £500. The winner will be announced at the prizegiving dinner to be held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, on Monday 14 July.
Tendai Huchu, shortlisted for "The Intervention"
As in previous years the winner will have the opportunity to take up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. The winner will also be invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September, the Storymoja Hay Festival in Nairobi and the Ake Festival in Nigeria.

Gillian Slovo
Kay 's fellow judges are the 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 the Nigerian winner of the Caine Prize in 2001 Helon Habila.

As part of events around the Prize, the shortlisted writers will read from their work at the Royal Over-Seas League in London on Thursday 10 July at 7pm and at the Southbank Centre on Sunday 13 July at 5pm. On Friday 11 and Saturday 12 July they will take part in the Africa Writes Festival organised at The British Library by  ASAUK and the Royal African Society.

As always the Caine Prize events include publication of an anthology including the shortlisted stories, plus stories produced at the annual Caine Prize Workshop. The book of the 2014 prize will be launched at the award dinner in Oxford on 14 July. It is  published by New Internationalist and seven co-publishers in Africa: Jacana Media (South Africa), Cassava Republic (Nigeria), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE (Uganda), Bookworld Publishers (Zambia) and ‘amaBooks (Zimbabwe).

last year's Caine Prize anthology: A Memory This Size and Other Stories

The Caine Prize Workshop takes place in an African country: this year it was held in Zimbabwe, from 21 March to 2 April. Writers Henrietta Rose-Innes (Caine Prize 2008 winner) and Nii Parkes were the tutors and animateurs.

Last year the Caine Prize was won by Nigerian writer Tope Folarin. He has subsequently signed up with the Lippincott Massie McQuilkin literary agency and is working on his first novel, The Proximity of Distance.

Biographies of shortlisted authors
Diane Awerbuck is the author of Gardening at Night (2003), which was awarded the Commonwealth Best First Book Award (Africa and the Caribbean) and was shortlisted for the International Dublin IMPAC Award. Her work has been published internationally and translated into a number of languages. Awerbuck develops educational materials, reviews fiction for the South African Sunday Times, and writes for Mail and Guardian’s Thoughtleader. Awerbuck’s collection of short stories, Cabin Fever, was published in 2011. Her most recent full-length work, Home Remedies, was published in 2012. Her doctoral work and non-fiction deal with trauma, narrative and the public sphere.

 Efemia Chela 
 Efemia Chela was born in Chikankata, Zambia in 1991, but grew up in England, Ghana, Botswana and South Africa. Her 2014 Caine Prize shortlisted story "Chicken" - her first published story- won third prize in the  Short Story Day Africa Prize. Efemia lives in Cape Town.

Tendai Huchu is the author of the novel The Hairdresser of Harare. His short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Warscapes, Wasafiri, The Africa Report, The Zimbabwean, The Open Road Review, Kwani?05, A View from Here and numerous other publications. In 2013 he received a Hawthornden Fellowship and a Sacatar Fellowship. His next novel will be The Maestro, The Magistrate, and The Mathematician.  

Billy Kahora
Billy Kahora is the managing editor of the Kenyan literary journal Kwani? and the author of The True Story of David Munyakei (2009). His writing has appeared in Granta, Kwani?, Chimurenga and Vanity Fair. His short story "Urban Zoning" was shortlisted in 2012 for the Caine Prize and in 2007 "Treadmill Love" was highly commended by the Caine Prize judges. He is working on a novel titled, The Applications and is writing a book on Juba.

Okwiri Oduor
Okwiri Oduor was born in Nairobi. Her novella The Dream Chasers was highly commended in the Commonwealth Book Prize 2012, and she is currently working on her first full-length novel. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The New Inquiry, Kwani?, Saraba, FEMRITE, and African Writing Online. She recently directed the inaugural Writivism Festival in Kampala, Uganda. She teaches creative writing to young girls at her alma mater in Nairobi, and is a 2014 MacDowell Colony fellow. She was recently named as an Africa 39 writer (see below). Her 2014 Caine Prize shortlisted story "My Father's Head" won first prize in the Short Story Day Africa Prize last September.

Africa 39 features Caine Prize authors
This is a heady year for African literature, what with the 15th anniversary of the Caine Prize, the choice of Port Harcourt as UNESCO World Book Capital, and  Africa 39 - a list of 39 African writers aged 39 or less whose work is judged of particular interest. The list was released at the London Book Fair earlier this month by the Port Harcourt World Book Capital 2014 (PHWBC) and Hay Festival.

The Africa 39 list includes Caine Prize 2014 shortlistee Okwiri Oduor , the Nigerian 2012 winner Rotimi Babatunde, the Ugandan 2007 winner Monica Arac de Nyeko and the 2006 South African winner Mary Watson. Africa 39 also includes writers shortlisted for the Caine Prize in its 15 years, including Nigerian writing star Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (shortlisted in 2002), and the Malawian writer Stanley Onjezani Kenani (shortlisted in 2012 and 2008). The strong presence of Caine Prize writers on the Africa 39 list shows the importance of the Prize in identifying and encouraging young African writing talent.
The Africa 39 project comes after similar Hay Festival initiatives for young Arab Writers - Beirut 39 - and for writers from Latin America - Bogota 39.
 report by Susannah Tarbush, London

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