The shortlist for the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced, showcasing a diversity of themes and a wealth of literary talent. The five-writer shortlist was unveiled by this year’s Chair of judges, award-winning Ethiopian-American author, Dinaw Mengestu.
Dinaw Mengestu, former Lannan Foundation Chair in Poetics at Georgetown University, said: “The best short stories have a subtle, almost magical quality to them. They can contain through the rigour of their imagination and the care of their prose more than just a glimpse into the complicated emotional, political, and social fabric of their characters’ lives. The stories submitted for this year’s Caine Prize contained worlds within them, and nothing was perhaps as remarkable as finding that in story after story, writers across the continent and in the diaspora had laid waste to the idea that certain narratives belonged in the margins.
“The politics and aesthetics of gender, sexuality, corruption and silence were a constant presence throughout many of the stories submitted, particularly those on our shortlist. These five remarkable narratives are proof that nowhere is the complexity and diversity of Africa and African lives more evident than in the stories we tell.”
The shortlisted writers for the 2018 Caine Prize are:
- Nonyelum Ekwempu (Nigeria) for ‘American Dream’, published in Red Rock Review (2016) and republished in The Anthem (2016).
- Read ‘American Dream’
- Stacy Hardy (South Africa) for ‘Involution’, published in Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa, co-published by Short Story Day Africa and New Internationalist (2017).
- Read ‘Involution’
- Olufunke Ogundimu (Nigeria) for ‘The Armed Letter Writers’, published in The New Orleans Review (The African Literary Hustle, 2017).
- Read ‘The Armed Letter Writers’
- Makena Onjerika (Kenya) for ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’, published in Wasafiri (2017).
- Read ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’
- Wole Talabi (Nigeria) for ‘Wednesday’s Story’, published in Lightspeed Magazine (2016).
- Read ‘Wednesday’s Story’
Joining Dinaw Mengestu on the 2018 judging panel are: Henrietta Rose-Innes, South African author and winner of the 2008 Caine Prize; Lola Shoneyin, award-winning author and Director of the Ake Arts and Books Festival; and Ahmed Rajab, a Zanzibar-born international journalist, political analyst and essayist.
The winner of the £10,000 prize will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner in the Beveridge Hall at Senate House, SOAS, on Monday 2 July 2018 – in partnership with the Centre for African Studies. Each shortlisted writer will also receive £500.
The shortlisted stories will be published in June in New Internationalist’s 2018 Caine Prize anthology, Redemption Song, and through co-publishers in 16 African countries who receive a print-ready PDF free of charge.
Notes to Editors
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, Dr Delia Jarrett-Macauley is the Chair, and Adam Freudenheim is the Deputy Chairperson.
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), Nigerian Tope Folarin (2013), Kenyan Okwiri Oduor (2014), Zambian Namwali Serpell (2015), South African Lidudumalingani (2016); and Sudanese writer, Bushra al-Fadil (2017).
The five shortlisted stories, alongside stories written at the Caine Prize Writers’ Workshop – this year held in Rwanda in March/April – are published annually by New Internationalist (UK), Interlink Publishing (USA), Jacana Media (South Africa), Lantern Books (Nigeria), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE (Uganda), ‘amaBooks (Zimbabwe), Mkuki na Nyota (Tanzania), Redsea Cultural Foundation (Somaliland, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan and UAE), Gadsden Publishers (Zambia) and Huza Press (Rwanda). Books are available from the publishers or from the Africa Book Centre, African Books Collective or Amazon. The 2018 anthology will be titled Redemption Song.
The Caine Prize is principally supported by The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, The Miles Morland Foundation, The Carnegie Corporation, the Booker Prize Foundation, The Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Royal Over-Seas League and John and Judy Niepold. Other funders and partners include, The British Council, Georgetown University (USA), The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, The van Agtmael Family Charitable Fund, Rupert and Clare McCammon, Adam and Victoria Freudenheim, Arindam Bhattacherjee, Phillip Ihenacho and other generous donors.
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