Four Nigerians on shortlist for 2013 Caine Prize


Rotimi BabatundeRotimi Babatunde
| credits: Punch

A wind of euphoria is currently blowing across the literary community in Nigeria following the announcement of the shortlist for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing on Wednesday.

Among the five stories chosen for the shortlist are those of four Nigerian entries. They include Elnathan John’s Bayan Layi, Miracle by Tope Folarin, Abubakar, Adam Ibrahim’s The Whispering Trees  and America by Chinelo Okparanta.

The fifth entry titled Foreign Aid was written by Sierra Leonean writer, Pede Hollist.

In a remarks posted on the official website of the Caine Prize, the chairman of the panel of judges for this year’s contest, art historian and broadcaster, Gus Casely-Hayford, said, “The shortlist was selected from 96 entries from 16 African countries. They are all outstanding African stories that were drawn from an extraordinary body of high quality submissions.

“The five contrasting titles interrogate aspects of things that we might feel we know of Africa – violence, religion, corruption, family, community – but these are subjects that are deconstructed and beautifully remade. These are challenging, arresting, provocative stories of a continent and its descendants captured at a time of burgeoning change.”

The unprecedented number of Nigerians on the shortlist has been hailed as evidence that there is abundance of literary talent in Nigeria and proof that a quiet change is taking place in the country’s literary space.

In a telephone interview with our correspondent on Thursday, a former Editor of the Heinemann African Writers Series, Adewale Maja-Pearce, described the shortlist as good for Nigerian writing.

“It shows that Nigerian writers are forging ahead in spite of the many challenges affecting the country. It is remarkable that this achievement has come through self-effort on the part of the writers themselves,” he said.

One of the shortlisted writers, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim,  will be a guest author at the forthcoming Ake Arts and Book Festival in November.

So far, four Nigerians have won the Caine Prize for African Writing since its inception. They include Helon Habila, who was the first Nigerian writer to win the prize, Segun Afolabi, and E.C Osondu. Rotimi Babatunde emerged the winner in 2012. He has subsequently co-authored a play titled Feast for the Young Vic and the Royal Court theatres in London.

The winner of the £10,000 prize will be announced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, on July 8, 2013.

Other goodies lined up for the winner include a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. The award will cover all travel and living expenses.

The winner will also be invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2013.

Meanwhile, the 2012 Caine Prize Anthology, African Violet, is set for release on July 1, and will for the first time, be published in six African countries, up from last year’s three.


Culled from Punch


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