[The JRB Daily] 2023 Caine Prize for African Writing shortlist announced, showcasing ‘the depth and scope of writing on the continent and beyond’

The shortlist for the 2023 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 R243,000), and each shortlisted writer £500.

The five shortlisted stories were selected from a pool of just under three hundred entries from twenty-eight African countries.

This year’s nominees hail from Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

2023 Caine Prize shortlist

  • Yejide Kilanko (Nigeria) for ‘This Tangible Thing’, HarperVia (2023)
  • Tlotlo Tsamaase (Botswana) for ‘Peeling Time (Deluxe Edition)’, TorDotCom (2022)
  • Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo (Senegal) for ‘A Soul of Small Places’, TorDotCom (2022)
  • Ekemini Pius (Nigeria) for ‘Daughters, By Our Hands’, Isele Magazine (2022)
  • Yvonne Kusiima (Uganda) for ‘Weaving’, Isele Magazine (2022)

Fareda Banda, this year’s chair of judges, says:

‘Together we have read, discussed and wrestled an eligible submission list of 230 stories down to the final five. This has not been an easy task. The entries showed the depth and scope of writing on the continent and beyond.

‘The stories spanned generations, genres and themes. They challenged, stimulated, shocked, surprised and delighted us in equal measure. The five shortlisted embrace speculative fiction and artivism (using art as a form of activism). Stories of gender-based violence and reproductive autonomy highlight the power of engaging and innovative or original writing. Love is embodied in stories of grandmothers passing on intergenerational wisdom. The sense of alienation engendered by teenage diasporic liminality sits alongside comedic outrage about the perceived status downgrade in moving from city to village. Each story will have its fans and advocates—we loved them all.’

Ellah Wakatama, chair of the Caine Prize Board of Trustees, says:

‘This year we have, for the first time, an all-female judging panel for The Caine Prize for African Writing, which for me, is a particular delight. We set out to put together a group of formidable talent and experience across a range of art forms and disciplines. The judges have presented a shortlist that shows range and ambition, across genres and with diverse approaches to storytelling—the quality and innovation that is a hallmark of our annual shortlist.’

The Caine Prize judges this year are Fareda Banda (chair), professor of Law at SOAS, University of London; Edwige-Renée Dro, a writer, literary translator, and literary activist; Kadija George Sesay, editor and founder of Mboka Festival; Jendella Benson, author and Head of Editorial at Black Ballad; and Warsan Shire, a multi-award-winning writer and poet.

The winner of the 2023 Caine Prize will be announced on Monday, 2 October 2023 in London in the United Kingdom.

Last year’s Caine Prize winner was Kenyan writer Idza Luhumyo.

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