Okwiri2

 

Name: Okwiri Oduor

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Nationality: Kenyan

Published Work: Dream Chaser (a novella)

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Interesting Fact: She’s a Nairobi gal through and through.  She’s working on her debut novel and teaches creative writing at her Nairobi alma mater.

Caine Prize Story: “My Father’s Head” is about a woman who tries to draw a picture of her dead father. The trouble is that while she’s able to draw his body, she can’t seem to recall what his head looks like.

Why You Should Read It: The story is sad and surrealist in a sweetly unsettling sort of way. It’s about trying to remember a headless father. Need I say more!

Here is one of my favorite moments:

I remembered a time when I was a little child, when I stared into my father’s eyes in much the same way. In them I saw shapes; a drunken, talentless conglomerate of circles and triangles and squares. I had wondered how those shapes had got inside my father’s eyes. I had imagined that he sat down at the table, cut out glossy figures from coloring books, slathered them with glue, and stuck them inside his eyes so that they made rummy, haphazard collages in his irises.

Read full story HERE

 

awerbuck, diane

 

Name: Diane Awebuck

Nationality: South African

Published Work: The Gardening Night. Cabin Fever. Home Remedies. A doctoral dissertation published under the title The Spirit and the Letter: Trauma, Warblogs and the Public Sphere.

Interesting Fact: Her first novel is completely autobiographical. She is inspired by X-Files and loves to read other people’s letters and emails. She’s a fan of Ray Bradbury, Barbara Kingsolver, and Antjie Krog. {source}

Caine Prize Story: “Phosphorescence” tells the story of a grandmother who goes skinny-dipping (swims naked) in the sea with her grand-daughter.

Why You Should Read it: The story of an old woman swimming naked with her troubled granddaughter is lovely. But it’s the writing that will get you. It’s delicate and pretty.  Here is my favorite moment:

Brittany bent and unlaced her sneakers. She divested herself of her ankle socks and her black jeans, her haunches thin as a deer’s. Her top went next, then the shirts – three of them, layered archaeologically – until she was standing in her girlish underwear, a mystifying combination of cotton and wire scaffolding. She doesn’t need a bra, thought Alice, looking at her un- promising chest. why is she even wearing one? Her granddaughter’s body was a collection of straws, white in the moonlight.

Read full story HERE

“Layered archaeologically?” That’s sublime!

Kahora

 

Name: Billy Kahora

Nationality: Kenyan

Published Work:  “Treadmill Love” and “Urban Zoning” are both short stories.

Interesting Fact: He was one of the judges of the Etisalat Prize for Literature and is the managing editor of Kwani?, a nairobi-based literary journal.

Caine Prize Story: “The Gorilla’s Apprentice” is a strange story about an old, orphaned Gorilla and a teenage boy. As the gorilla gradually loses its eye-sight, the boy searches for a deeper, trans-species connection with the beast.

Why You Should Read it: The idea of human-animal friendship set against the backdrop of Kenya’s post-election crisis is both bizarre and cool. Besides, there aren’t enough African stories about animals.

Here is one of my favorite moments:

Then the last question: ‘It-is-said-that-far-in-the-mountains-of-Rwanda men-have-learnt-to- talk-to-gorillas. Do-you-think-there-is-any-truth to-such-claims?’ Semambo felt the ground shift slightly beneath him, but as hard as he tried, he could not make out the face that had asked the question. The projector light was right in his face, hiccupping because it had reached the end and caused the words on the screen to blink. 

Read full story HERE

Huchu

 

Name: Tendai Huchu

Nationality: Zimbabwe

Published Work: The Hairdresser of Harare

Interesting Fact: He dropped out of the University of Zimbabwe in his first semester and took up a job in a casino. He now lives in Scotland where he is a podiatrist. Believe it or not Huchu is actually a Brittle Paper writer. Read his “narrative remix” of a song by the Zimbabwean musician Comrade Fatso {HERE}.

Caine Prize Story: “The Intervention” is set in London. A living room full of Zimbabweans caught in an awkward moment on the day the nation’s election result is announced on Al Jazeera.

Why You Should Read It: It’s a one-scene story, so it’s fast and intense. I love how it fuses a domestic moment—a couple needing intervention in their relationship—with a moment of national uncertainty.

Out of me flowed a poetic response, a thermonuclear blast that left everyone stunned. Cynthia’s mouth was wide open. Z blinked a couple of times. As it lifted, I felt naked and tired, so tired. I fell back onto my seat and tried to control my breathing. I reached into my pocket, took out a notebook and began to write the verse as I’d received it. My t-shirt felt clammy on my skin. Everyone was staring. Precious told the kids to go to bed.

Read full story HERE

Chela

Name: Efemia Chela

Nationality: Ghana/Zambia

Published Work: “Chicken” is her first ever published work. It came third-place in Short Story Day Africa Competition

Interesting Fact: Her first ever published short story got her a Caine Prize shortlist. Talk about a beautiful start! She “enjoys wine-tasting, black and white movies, art, fashion as art and film photography.” She is married—sorry folks—but “to a film camera.” “They go everywhere together and have many square children.”  [source]

Caine Prize Story: “Chicken” is a set of three vignettes in which a character reflects on coming of age as  a young woman in an African city.  The first vignette captures the domestic flourish of an extended African family life. The second is an account of her bohemian post-university life of sexual experimentation. The third is her reclaiming her feminine body (sort of) through the experience of an irrevocable loss.

Why You Should Read It: Chela describes food like it’s sex. Here is one example:

From my father’s side came slow-cooked beef shin in a giant dented tin pot. Simply done, relying only on the innate flavour of the marbled red cubes of flesh and thinly sliced onion getting to know each other for hours. It was smoked by open charcoal fire and lightly seasoned with nothing but the flecks of salty sweat from nervy Auntie Nchimunya constantly leaning over the steaming pot. Mushrooms were cooked as simply as Sister Chanda’s existence. Fungi was hoped for in the night and foraged for at dawn. My favorites were curly-edged, red on top with a yellow underskirt and fried in butter. My lip curled as someone passed me a bowl of uisashi, wild greens and peanuts mashed into a bitty green mess. Little cousins cheekily defied their rank and begged for the prized parsons’ noses from the grilled chickens. My chickens. Their shiny mouths indicated they’d already had more than enough chicken for the night and their age. Tauntingly, I popped one of the tails into my mouth and refused to pass them the crammed tray.

Read full story HERE