The 2017 Caine Prize shortlist has been announced and it is an exciting, surprising, record-setting one. There are three Nigerians, one South African, and one Sudanese. It has both the Prize’s oldest shortlistee ever and one of its youngest. And it has the Prize’s second ever story to be translated from the Arabic.
Here are the five authors:
- Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria) for “Who Will Greet You At Home” published in The New Yorker (USA, 2015).
- Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria) for “Bush Baby” published in African Monsters, eds. Margarét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas (Fox Spirit Books, USA. 2015).
- Bushra al-Fadil (Sudan) for “The Story of the Girl whose Birds Flew Away,” translated by Max Shmookler, published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction eds. Raph Cormack & Max Shmookler (Comma Press, UK. 2016).
- Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) for “God’s Children Are Little Broken Things” published in A Public Space 24 (A Public Space Literary Projects Inc., USA. 2016).
- Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa) for “The Virus” published in The Harvard Review 49 (Houghton Library Harvard University, USA. 2016).
This is Lesley Nneka Arimah‘s second consecutive shortlisting, following last year’s inclusion for the title story of her collection, “What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky.” Her story, “Light,” won the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
Chikodi Emelumadu is a broadcaster and blogger, with a BA in English language and literature from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka and an MA in Cross Cultural Communications and International Relations from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Apex, Eclectica, Luna Station Quarterly, Omenana, One Throne and Sub-Q magazine. She was a 2015 Shirley Jackson nominee.
Bushra al-Fadil is primarily a poet, with a PhD in Russian Language. Once expelled from his lecturing position at Khartoum University, Sudan due to his political activism, he currently lives in Saudi Arabia. At 65 years of age, he is the oldest ever to be shortlisted for the Caine. His story, the title story of his collection, is the second ever nominated to be translated from the Arabic.
We are overwhelmed by Arinze Ifeakandu‘s inclusion. He is the first writer published by Brittle Paper—before his shortlisting—to be recognized by the Caine Prize. We published his nonfiction and memoir—pieces of lyrical beauty—and then an interview with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which he conducted for his university journal, The Muse, which we republished online. An alumni of the 2013 Farafina Creative Writing Workshop, he was a finalist for the 2015 BN Poetry Award. We are doubly excited as his shortlisted story, “God’s Children Are Little Broken Things”—which won him an Emerging Writer Fellowship from A Public Space in 2015—was named in our list of “The 31 Best Pieces of 2016.” It is his first publication. At 22, he is one of the Caine Prize’s youngest ever shortlistees. But even more striking is that the story was written in 2013, in his second year in university when he was aged 19.
Magogodi Makhene studied in New York University, where she was a Reynolds Fellow for Social Entrepreneurship, and at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow and former student of Marilynne Robinson’s. Her work appears in Salon and Guernica. She is a recipient of the David Relin Prize for Fiction.
The winner will receive 10,000 pounds during a ceremony in London which will be attended by all shortlistees. The others will receive 500 pounds each.
The judging panel comprised the 2007 Caine Prize winner, Monica Arac de Nyeko; author and Chair of the English Department at Georgetown University, Professor Ricardo Ortiz; Libyan author and human rights campaigner, Ghazi Gheblawi; University of Southampton’s African literature scholar, Dr Ranka Primorac; and the chair, Nii Ayikwei Parkes. Here is what Nii Parkes said:
This year’s submissions were a pleasure to read; we were all impressed by the quality and imaginative ambition of the work received. Indeed, there were a dozen stories that did not make the shortlist that would win other competitions there seemed to be a theme of transition in many of the stories. Whether it’s an ancient myth brought to life in a contemporary setting, a cyber attack-triggered wave of migration and colonisation, an insatiable quest for motherhood, an entertaining surreal ride that hints at unspeakable trauma, or the loss of a parent in the midst of a personal identity crisis, these writers juxtapose future, past and present to ask important questions about the world we live in.
Although they range in tone from the satirical to the surreal, all five stories on this year’s shortlist are unrelentingly haunting. It has been a wonderful journey so far and we look forward to selecting a winner. It will be a hard job, but I’ve always believed that you can’t go wrong with a Ghanaian at the helm of an international panel.
The Caine Prize is awarded to the best 3,000-10,000-word short story by an African writer. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner at Senate House Library, London, to be attended by the shortlistees.
Previous winners are: Sudan’s Leila Aboulela (2000); Nigeria’s Helon Habila (2001); Kenya’s Binyavanga Wainaina (2002); Kenya’s Yvonne Owuor (2003); Zimbabwe’s Brian Chikwava (2004); Nigeria’s Segun Afolabi (2005); South Africa’s Mary Watson (2006); Uganda’s Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007); South Africa’s Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008); Nigeria’s EC Osondu (2009); Sierra Leone’s Olufemi Terry (2010), Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo (2011); Nigeria’s Rotimi Babatunde (2012); Nigeria’s Tope Folarin (2013); Kenya’s Okwiri Oduor (2014); Zambia’s Namwali Serpell (2015); and South Africa’s Lidudumalingani (2016).
The 2017 stories will be published in New Internationalist’s 2017 Caine Prize anthology The Goddess of Mwtara and Other Stories in June and through co-publishers in 16 African countries.
Congratulations to the five authors! In the coming weeks, we will publish reviews of their stories and hope they build important conversations.
Read the stories here:
Correction: The first version of this post incorrectly stated that Arinze Ifeakandu wrote his shortlisted story at 18 years of age and in his first year in university. We apologize for this error.