[The JRB Daily] 2021 Caine Prize for African Writing shortlist announced—‘the true art of African storytelling manifested’

Image: The Caine Prize

The shortlist for the 2021 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, awarded annually for a short story by an African writer published in English, has been announced.

The winner of the prize receives £10,000 (about R193,000), and each shortlisted writer £500.

This year’s five nominees hail from Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia/Rwanda and Uganda. Their stories, according to prize organisers, ‘poignantly convey images of the continent and its diaspora that demand to be read’.

Rwandan–Namibian writer Rémy Ngamije has been shortlisted for the second year in a row. Last year, a story of his published in The JRB received a nod; this year, it’s a story of his published in Lolwe. Ngamije’s own literary magazine, meanwhile, Doek!, has also published one of this year’s shortlistees.

Here is the full statement from Chair of judges, Goretti Kyomuhendo:

We were looking for literary excellence and great stories. It is clear that the wealth of stories presented to the Prize speak about the African experience from a multitude of perspectives and forms, while often centering the themes of love, loss, identity, hope and afterlife.

It has been hugely encouraging to see consistently excellent editing throughout the stories put to our judgment, and we have enthusiastically noticed a large number of submissions from homegrown literary journals from the continent this year.

What comes across vividly in this year’s shortlisted stories, through their impressive craft and intelligent language is their ability to resonate profoundly with the reader. My fellow judges and I were reminded, once again, of the redemptive power of stories. These remarkable five narratives all exemplify, with delicacy and truth, what good fiction is.

Intermingling politics and humour, brutality and love, loss and hope, each of these stories poignantly convey images of the continent and its diaspora that demand to be read. The true art of African storytelling is manifested in the voices of these five exceptional pieces.

The shortlisted stories for the 2021 AKO Caine Prize are:

  • ‘Lucky’ by Doreen Baingana (Uganda) published in Ibua Journal, Online in Kampala, Uganda, 2021. Read her story here.
  • ‘The Street Sweep’ by Meron Hadero (Ethiopia) published in ZYZZYVA, Ethiopia, 2018. Read her story here.
  • ‘The Giver of Nicknames’ by Rémy Ngamije (Namibia) published in Lolwe, Kenya, 2020. Read his story here.
  • ‘This Little Light of Mine’ by Troy Onyango (Kenya) published in Doek! Literary Magazine, Namibia, 2020. Read his story here.
  • ‘A Separation’ by Iryn Tushabe (Ugandan) published in EXILE Quarterly, Canada 2018. Read her story here.

The winner of this year’s prize will be announced in July. Find more information at the Caine Prize’s website.

Congratulations to the shortlistees and good luck!

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