Days ago, we ran an editorial on the seemingly unsteady state of affairs at the Caine Prize since Dr Lizzy Attree, director of the Prize since 2011, stepped aside from her role. We pointed out that little publicity was happening at the Prize, that the Prize was looking for a new Administrator, and crucially, that we had been anonymously informed that Mr Alain Mabanckou, celebrated novelist and literature professor at UCLA, had resigned from the judging panel for the 2018 Prize, which led to his profile being taken down from the Prize’s Website.
We have since received confirmation that Mr Mabanckou has indeed resigned.
The confirmation, however, is not from the Caine Prize, which has remained silent on the worrying development. Alain Mabanckou was part of a distinguished panel of judges—including novelists Dinaw Mengestu and Lola Shoneyin, 2007 Caine Prize winner Henrietta Rose-Innes, and journalist Ahmed Rajab—whose assembly suggested that, after years of its shortlists being picked apart, the Prize was thrusting in their most ambitious direction yet. Given Mr Mabanckou’s influence, observers are waiting for the Caine Prize’s statement—if and when it would come.
The Caine Prize is currently holding its 2018 workshop in Rwanda, a gathering of the finalists and selected entrants for the previous year’s edition.