By Dennis Abrams
The shortlist for the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced by Nobel Prize winner and Patron of the Caine Prize Professor Wole Soyinka, as part of the opening ceremonies for the UNESCO World Book Capital 2014 celebration in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
To commemorate fifteen years of the Caine Prize this year, £500 will be awarded to each shortlisted writer.
The Chair of judges, award-winning author Jackie Kay MBE described the shortlist as “Compelling, lyrical, thought-provoking and engaging. 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.”
She added, “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. 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 brining something different to the form.”
The winner of the £10,000 prize is to be announced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodelian Library, Oxford, on July 14th. The 2014 short list is:
- Diane Awerbuck (South Africa) “Phosphorescence” in Cabin Fever (Umuzi, Cape Town, 2011)
- Efernia Chela (Ghana/Zambia) “Chicken” in Feast, Famine and Potluck (Short Story Day Africa, South Africa, 2013)
- Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe) “The Intervention” in Open Road Review, issue 7, New Delhi, 2013)
- Billy Kahora (Kenya) “The Gorilla’s Apprentice” in Granta (London, 2010),
- Okwiri Oduor (Kenya) “My Father’s Head” in Feast, Famine and Potluck (Short Story Day Africa, South Africa, 2013)
The book of the 2014 prize will be published with this year’s workshop stories in a forthcoming anthology which will be launched at the award dinner and published by New Internationalist and seven co-publishers in Africa.
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 published by an African writer published in English. An “African writer” is normally 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.
Read biographies of the five shortlisted writers here.