Alert! Rumours about the shortlist for this year’s £10 000 Caine Prize for African Writing have been swirling all weekend, thanks to an email from the offices of SA PEN, whose New Writing from Africa 2009 was said to contain two of the short stories in the running.
Happily, BOOK SA can confirm the rumours: both Alex Smith and Ken Barris, compiled in New Writing, represent South Africa on this year’s list – as, in a way, does a third writer who firmly counts as a member of the SA Lit scene, Olufemi Terry. (He’s officially representing Sierra Leone.)
The Caine Prize, now in its eleventh year, is given annually to a short story by an African writer published in a recognised book, journal, website or magazine. Last year’s winner was Nigeria’s EC Osundu; in 2008, Henrietta Rose-Innes took the gong.
This year’s shortlist sees writers from Kenya and Zambia, in addition to South Africa and Sierra Leone, competing for honours; without further ado:
2010 Caine Prize for African Writing shortlist
- Ken Barris for “The Life of Worm” (South Africa; New Writing from Africa 2009)
- Lily Mabura for “How Shall We Kill the Bishop” (Kenya; Wasafiri)
- Namwali Serpell for “Muzungu” (Zambia; The Best American Short Stories 2009)
- Alex Smith for “Soulmates” (South Africa; New Writing from Africa 2009)
- Olufemi Terry for “Stickfighting Days” (Sierra Leone; Chimurenga)
All the shortlistees receive a travel award to help them attend the Caine Prize writing workshop later this year.
The winner is traditionally announced in July. Congratulations and best of luck to all, but especially to Barris, Smith and Terry!
Here’s the official press release:
Eleventh Caine Prize shortlist announced
The shortlist for the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced (Monday 26 April 2010). The Caine Prize, widely known as the ‘African Booker’ and regarded as Africa’s leading literary award, is now in its eleventh year. The chair of judges, The Economist literary editor Fiammetta Rocco, said: “Africa has much to be proud of in these five writers. Not only are their stories all confident, ambitious and skillfully written, each one boasts an added dimension – a voice, character or particular emotional connection – that makes it uniquely powerful.”
Selected from 115 entries from 13 African countries, the shortlist is once again a reflection of the Caine Prize’s pan-African reach. The winner of the £10,000 prize is to be announced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, on Monday 5 July.
The 2010 shortlist comprises:
Ken Barris (S Africa) ‘The Life of Worm’ from ‘New Writing from Africa 2009′, published by Johnson & King James Books, Cape Town
Lily Mabura (Kenya) ‘How Shall We Kill the Bishop?’ from ‘Wasafiri’ No53, Spring 2008
Namwali Serpell (Zambia) ‘Muzungu’ from ‘The Best American Short Stories 2009′, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston MA
Alex Smith (S Africa) ‘Soulmates’ from ‘New Writing from Africa 2009′ [see above]
Olufemi Terry (Sierra Leone) ‘Stickfighting Days’ from ‘Chimurenga’ vol 12/13, Cape Town 2008
Joining Fiammetta on the judging panel this year are Granta deputy editor Ellah Allfrey, Professor Jon Cook of the University of East Anglia, and Georgetown University professor Samantha Pinto.
Once again the winner of the £10,000 Caine Prize will be given the opportunity of taking up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, Washington DC, as a ‘Caine Prize/Georgetown University Writer-in-Residence’. The award will cover all travel and living expenses.
Last year the Caine Prize was won by Nigerian writer EC Osondu for his short story ‘Waiting’ from Guernicamag.com, October 2008. Chair of judges Nana Yaa Mensah called it “a tour de force describing, from a child’s point of view, the dislocating experience of being a displaced person. It is powerfully written with not an ounce of fat on it – and deeply moving.”
Previous winners include Uganda’s Monica Arac de Nyeko, for Jambula Tree from ‘African Love Stories’, Ayebia Clarke Publishing, 2006, and Brian Chikwava, from Zimbabwe, whose first novel Harare North has just been published by Jonathan Cape.
This year the shortlisted writers will be reading from their work at the Royal Over-Seas League on Friday, 2 July at 7pm and at the London Literature Festival at the Southbank Centre, on Sunday, 4 July at 1pm.