[The JRB Daily] 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing shortlist announced, showcasing the ‘complexity and diversity of Africa and African lives’

The five-writer shortlist for the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced, featuring writers from South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

Stacy Hardy, whose short story ‘The day the white people walked into the sea’ was published in the February issue of The JRB, is shortlisted for ‘Involution’, published in Short Story Day Africa’s 2016 competition anthology Migrations.

Olufunke Ogundimu, who reviewed Lesley Nneka Arimah’s What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky for the July 2017 edition of The JRB, is shortlisted for her short story ‘The Armed Letter Writers’.

The Caine Prize, launched in 2000, is awarded annually to an African writer of a short story published in English.

This year’s Chair of judges, award-winning Ethiopian-American author Dinaw Mengestu, says: ‘The best short stories have a subtle, almost magical quality to them. They can contain through the rigour of their imagination and the care of their prose more than just a glimpse into the complicated emotional, political, and social fabric of their characters’ lives.

‘The stories submitted for this year’s Caine Prize contained worlds within them, and nothing was perhaps as remarkable as finding that in story after story, writers across the continent and in the diaspora had laid waste to the idea that certain narratives belonged in the margins.

‘The politics and aesthetics of gender, sexuality, corruption and silence were a constant presence throughout many of the stories submitted, particularly those on our shortlist. These five remarkable narratives are proof that nowhere is the complexity and diversity of Africa and African lives more evident than in the stories we tell.’

2018 Caine Prize shortlist

  • Nonyelum Ekwempu (Nigeria) for ‘American Dream’, published in Red Rock Review (2016) and republished in The Anthem (2016).Nonyelum Ekwempu is a Nigerian writer and visual artist. She grew up in the bustling city of Lagos and in small villages in southwestern and southeastern Nigeria. Her art is inspired by jazz, the African immigrant experience, and the colours and vibrancy of various African cultures. She is currently a medical student at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

    Read ‘American Dream’

  • Stacy Hardy (South Africa) for ‘Involution’, published in Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa, by Short Story Day Africa (2017).Stacy Hardy is a writer and an editor at the pan African journal Chimurenga, a founder of Black Ghost Books, and a teacher at Rhodes University, South Africa. Her writing has appeared in a wide range of publications, including Pocko Times, Ctheory, Bengal Lights, Evergreen Review, Drunken Boat, Joyland, Black Sun Lit, and New Orleans Review. A collection of her short fiction, Because the Night, was published by Pocko Books in 2015. She is currently finalising a second collection to be published in 2019, and is also working on a novella.

    Read ‘Involution’

  • Olufunke Ogundimu (Nigeria) for ‘The Armed Letter Writers’, published in The African Literary Hustle (2017).Olufunke Ogundimu was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She has an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her work has been published in Dream Chasers, Nothing to See Here, Red Rock Review, New Orleans Review, and Transition Magazine. She is working on a short story collection reluctantly titled The Was Thing, and a historical novel set in the twelfth-century Oyo Kingdom, titled Memories of Three Rivers.

    Read ‘The Armed Letter Writers’

  • Makena Onjerika (Kenya) for ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’, published in Wasafiri (2017).Makena is a graduate of the MFA Creative Writing programme at New York University, and has been published in Urban Confustions and Wasafiri. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya, and is currently working on a fantasy novel.

    Read ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’

  • Wole Talabi (Nigeria) for ‘Wednesday’s Story’, published in Lightspeed Magazine (2016).Wole is a Nigerian full-time engineer, part-time writer and some-time editor with a fondness for science fiction and fantasy. His stories have appeared in publications including Terraform, Omenana, Liquid Imagination, and The Kalahari Review. He edited These Words Expose Us, the anthology of Nigerian blog-site, The Naked Convos. He currently lives and works in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He enjoys good stories and goes scuba diving whenever he gets the chance.

    Read ‘Wednesday’s Story’

Joining Mengestu on the 2018 judging panel are Henrietta Rose-Innes, who won the 2008 Caine Prize and is a JRB Contributing Editor, Lola Shoneyin, author and Director of the Ake Arts and Books Festival, and Ahmed Rajab, a Zanzibar-born international journalist, political analyst and essayist.

The winner of the £10,000 (about R168 000) prize will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner at SOAS, University of London, on Monday 2 July 2018, in partnership with the Centre for African Studies. Each shortlisted writer will also receive £500.

The shortlisted stories will be published in June in New Internationalist’s 2018 Caine Prize anthology, Redemption Song, and through co-publishers in sixteen African countries.

Last year’s Caine Prize went to Sudanese writer Bushra al-Fadil, for his story ‘The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away’.

Image: Caine Prize

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