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Twenty Years of the Caine Prize for African Writing



I have known about the Caine Prize for about eight years now and before this I generally had an idea of the previous winners. Just their names and not particularly the stories. The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing is a literature prize awarded to an African writer of a short story published in English. The prize was launched in 2000 to encourage and highlight the richness and diversity of African writing by bringing it to a wider audience internationally. To round up my month of reading short story collections I decided to read a compilation of all the stories that have been awarded the prize in the past twenty years. It is always interesting so see how many stories have been written out there and what they mean to different people. The introduction by Ben Okri is befitting, enlightening, comforting (to upcoming writers) and inspiring. I love what he says on page 11 about the short story as a form,


‘It is in this way that the short form lends itself to the political, the social, the contemplative, the anecdotal, the cultural. It is because it can be a mirror of life that it serves on so many levels. It can be a mood, a memory, an aesthetic throb, a thought experiment, an enigma, a glimpse of a mental state, a scene broken off from from a complex historical moment, a record of something terrible witnessed, a note of an obsession, or the testing of a philosophical hypothesis in a fictional disguise. The elasticity of the form is astounding.’

The twenty short stories in this book make up a beautiful collection. You get a bit of everything and some surprises too! One moment you are sad and in the next you are laughing. I am looking forward to reading compilations of all the shortlisted stories. I think that would be great for wider reading and some reviews. I read this book in a ‘let’s see what we have here’ moment after my friend Brain kept asking me to read it. I was not particularly looking for anything but I am glad that I read it. Featured in this book are the winning stories by Leila Abouelela, Helon Habila, Binyavanga Wainaina, Yvonne Adhibo Owuor, Brian Chikwava, Segun Afolabi, Mary Watson, Monica Arac de Ntokozo, Henrietta Rose-Innes, EC Osondu, Olufemi Terry, NoViolet Bulawayo, Rotimi Babatunde, Tope Folarin, Okwiri Odour, Namwali Seperll, Lidudumalingani, Bushra al-Fadil, Makena Onjerika and Lesley Nneka Arimah (authors cited in chronological order, 2000-2019). This is definitely a good addition to my library!

 

Book Details

Title: Twenty Years of the Caine Prize for African Writing

Author: Various

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 320

Publisher: Jacana

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