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“God, There’s a Hell of a Lot of Sex Going on in Africa” – Neel Mukherjee Reflects on Caine Prize Judging

The Gonjon Pin and Other StoriesLives of OthersA Life ApartOctoberHarare North

This year’s Caine Prize received a the highest number of submissions ever – but according to judge Neel Mukherjee the 2015 entries boasts another, more “dubious”, record: the highest number of stories centred on sex.

In an article for the Caine Prize blog, the Indian author and Man Booker Prize shortlistee quotes one of his fellow judges, halfway through the reading process, as exclaiming: “God, there’s a hell of a lot of sex going on in Africa.”

Read Mukherjee’s hilarious – and insihgtful – piece:

Masturbation features a lot, especially female masturbation. Male genitals, erm, dismembered (and disembodied), appear on a wall (yes, you read that correctly). There’s even sex – well, almost – with a tokoloshe. There’s an explicit little number, by no definition a story, in which a male narrator justifies his infidelity by his wife’s refusal to shave her legs or blow him after their marriage. And there’s your common-or-garden variety sex as well; often called vanilla, I’m reliably informed. Oh, did I forget female orgasms and ubiquitous ejaculations?


But it set me thinking: could it be that, after decades of being expected to write about poverty, famine, AIDS, corruption, dictators, writers from most of the countries on the continent are writing about whatever the hell they feel like writing about? But the problematics of this ‘liberation’ don’t need spelling out.

On this year’s shortlist, which was announced in early May, are South Africans Masande Ntshanga – who’s having a pretty big year – and FT Kola, along with 2005 winner Segun Afolabi (Nigeria), 2013 shortlistee Elnathan John (Nigeria) and 2010 shortlistee Namwali Serpell (Zambia).

The ReactiveA Life ElsewhereTwenty in 20Africa39

The 2015 Caine Prize judging panel is chaired by Zoë Wicomb. She is joined by Mukherjee, Zeinab Badawi, Cóilín Parsons and Brian Chikwava, winner of the 2004 Caine Prize.

The winner of the 2015 Caine Prize will be announced in Oxford, England, on Monday, 6 July.

Book details

  • Twenty in 20: The Best Short Stories of South Africa’s 20 Years of Democracy by , , , , , edited by Mandla Langa
    EAN: 9781928216421
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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