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NoViolet Bulawayo wins the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing for “Hitting Budapest”

NoViolet Bulawayo

Alert! Zimbabwean author, NoViolet Bulawayo, has won the annual £10 000 Caine Prize for African Writing, as announced at the Bodleian Library in Oxford this evening. Bulawayo wins the 2011 prize for her short story, “Hitting Budapest”, which Chair of Judges, Hisham Matar, described as being “reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange.” NoViolet Bulawayo is the pen name of Elizabeth Tshele, who is currently a Truman Capote Fellow at Cornell University in America.

Tolu Ogunlesi (@toluogunlesi) was the first to tweet the announcement, followed closely by Isobel Dixon (@isobeldixon); both brought the news to us live from the event:

Will be tweeting the name of the winner of the £10,000 prize as soon as it’s announced (around 10pm). Stay tuned…less than a minute ago via Snaptu Favorite Retweet Reply

And the winner of the 2011 Caine Prize is NOVIOLET BULAWAYO
Read the winning and shortlisted stories at www.caineprize.comless than a minute ago via Snaptu Favorite Retweet Reply

Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo’s ‘Hitting Budapest’ takes @CainePrize.less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

An official tweet from the Caine Prize (@CainePrize) soon followed:

Noviolet has just won the caine prize!less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

Bulawayo was shortlisted for the award alongside Beatrice Lamwaka (Uganda; “Butterfly dreams”), Tim Keegan (South Africa, “What Molly Knew”), Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana; “In the spirit of McPhineas Lata”) and David Medalie (South Africa; “The Mistress’s Dog”). She takes the Caine Prize baton from Olufemi Terry who won last year’s prize for his story “Stickfighting Days”. We send her our warmest congratulations!

Read “Hitting Budapest” by NoViolet Bulawayo:

We are on our way to Budapest: Bastard and Chipo and Godknows and Sbho and Stina and
me. We are going even though we are not allowed to cross Mzilikazi Road, even though Bastard is supposed to be watching his little sister Fraction, even though mother would kill me dead if she found out; we are going. There are guavas to steal in Budapest, and right now I’d die for guavas, or anything for that matter. My stomach feels like somebody just took a shovel and dug everything out.

Getting out of Paradise is not so hard since the mothers are busy with hair and talk. They just glance at us when we file past and then look away. We don’t have to worry about the men under the jacaranda either since their eyes never lift from the draughts. Only the little kids see us and want to follow, but Bastard just wallops the naked one at the front with a fist on his big head and they all turn back.

It was also announced tonight that Ben Okri is to become Vice President of the Caine Prize Council. Here is the official announcement from the Caine Prize:

Press Release

NoViolet Bulawayo wins 12th Caine Prize for African Writing

Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo has won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for her short story entitled ‘Hitting Budapest’, from The Boston Review, Vol 35, no. 6 – Nov/Dec 2010.

The Chair of Judges, award-winning author Hisham Matar, announced NoViolet Bulawayo as the winner of the £10,000 prize at a dinner held this evening (Monday 11 July) at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Hisham Matar said: “The language of ‘Hitting Budapest’ crackles. Here we encounter Darling, Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, Stina and Sbho, a gang reminiscent of Clockwork Orange. But these are children, poor and violated and hungry. This is a story with moral power and weight, it has the artistry to refrain from moral commentary. NoViolet Bulawayo is a writer who takes delight in language.”

NoViolet Bulawayo was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She recently completed her MFA at Cornell University, in the US, where she is now a Truman Capote Fellow and Lecturer of English. Another of her stories, ‘Snapshots’, was shortlisted for the 2009 SA PEN/Studzinski Literary Award. NoViolet has recently completed a novel manuscript tentatively titled We Need New Names, and has begun work on a memoir project.

Also shortlisted were:

Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana) ‘In the spirit of McPhineas Lata’ from The Bed Book of Short Stories published by Modjaji Books, SA, 2010

Tim Keegan (South Africa) ‘What Molly Knew’ from Bad Company published by Pan Macmillan SA, 2008

David Medalie (South Africa) ‘The Mistress’s Dog’, from The Mistress’s Dog: Short stories, 1996-2010 published by Picador Africa, 2010

Beatrice Lamwaka (Uganda) ‘Butterfly dreams’ from Butterfly Dreams and Other New Short Stories from Uganda published by Critical, Cultural and Communications Press, Nottingham, 2010

The panel of judges is chaired by award-winning Libyan novelist Hisham Matar, whose first novel, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize. His second novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, was published by Viking this March.

He is joined on the panel by Granta deputy editor Ellah Allfrey, publisher, film and travel writer Vicky Unwin, Georgetown University Professor and poet David Gewanter, and the award-winning author Aminatta Forna.

Once again, the winner of the £10,000 Caine Prize will be given the opportunity to take 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 Sierra Leonean writer Olufemi Terry. As the then Chair of judges, Fiammetta Rocco, said at the time, the story was “ambitious, brave and hugely imaginative. Olufemi Terry’s ‘Stickfighting Days’ presents a heroic culture that is Homeric in its scale and conception. The execution of this story is so tight and the presentation so cinematic, it confirms Olufemi Terry as a talent with an enormous future.”

Previous winners include Sudan’s Leila Aboulela, winner of the first Caine Prize in 2000, whose new novel Lyrics Alley was published in January 2010 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, as well as Binyavanga Wainaina, from Kenya, who founded the well-known literary magazine, Kwani?, dedicated to promoting the work of new Kenyan writers and whose memoir One Day I Will Write About this Place will be published by Granta Books in November 2011.


To See the Mountain and Other Stories

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Image courtesy the Zimbo Jam


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Henrietta</a>
    July 12th, 2011 @10:23 #

    Many congratulations to NoViolet!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    July 12th, 2011 @17:11 #

    Well done, NoViolet, and applause for all on the fabulous shortlist. I was really hoping Lauri Kubuitsile or David Medalie would win (for sentimental reasons, but also because I LOVE their stories), but the lovely thing about the Caine Prize is that all the shortlistees get the attention they deserve.


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