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The shortlist for the 2018 Caine Prize has been announced. The Caine Prize is awarded to the best 3,000-10,000-word short story by an African writer. The 2017 prize was awarded to Sudanese poet Bushra al-Fadil for his “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away.”

Here are the five writers, their shortlisted stories, and the magazines where they were published:

  • Nonyelum Ekwempu (Nigeria) for ‘American Dream’, published in Red Rock Review (2016) and republished in The Anthem
  • Stacy Hardy (South Africa) for ‘Involution’, published in Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa
  • Olufunke Ogundimu (Nigeria) for ‘The Armed Letter Writers’, published in The African Literary Hustle (2017)
  • Makena Onjerika (Kenya) for ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’, published in Wasafiri (2017)
  • Wole Talabi (Nigeria) for ‘Wednesday’s Story’, published in Lightspeed Magazine (2016)

Meet the five shortlisted writers

Nonyelum Ekwempu (Nigeria) for ‘American Dream’, published in Red Rock Review (2016), and republished in The Anthem. Nonyelum is a Nigerian writer and visual artist. She grew up in the bustling city of Lagos and in small villages in southwestern and southeastern Nigeria. Her art is inspired by jazz, the African immigrant experience, and the colours and vibrancy of various African cultures. She is currently a medical student at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Stacy Hardy (South Africa) for ‘Involution’, published in Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa, by New Internationalist (2017).  Stacy Hardy is a writer and an editor at the pan African journal Chimurenga, a founder of Black Ghost Books, and a teacher at Rhodes University, South Africa. Her writing has appeared in a wide range of publications, including Pocko Times, Ctheory, Bengal Lights, Evergreen Review, Drunken Boat, Joyland, Black Sun Lit, and New Orleans Review. A collection of her short fiction, Because the Night, was published by Pocko Books in 2015. She is currently finalising a second collection to be published in 2019, and is also working on a novella.

Olufunke Ogundimu (Nigeria) for ‘The Armed Letter Writers’, published in The African Literary Hustle (2017). Olufunke Ogundimu was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She has an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her work has been published in Dream Chasers, Nothing to See Here, Red Rock Review, New Orleans Review, and Transition Magazine. She is working on a short story collection reluctantly titled The Was Thing, and a historical novel set in the twelfth-century Oyo Kingdom, titled Memories of Three Rivers.

Makena Onjerika (Kenya) for ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’, published in Wasafiri (2017).

Makena is a graduate of the MFA Creative Writing programme at New York University, and has been published in Urban Confustions and Wasafiri.

She lives in Nairobi, Kenya, and is currently working on a fantasy novel.

Wole Talabi (Nigeria) for ‘Wednesday’s Story’, published in Lightspeed Magazine (2016). Wole is a Nigerian full-time engineer, part-time writer and some-time editor with a fondness for science fiction and fantasy. His stories have appeared in publications including Terraform, Omenana, Liquid Imagination, and The Kalahari Review. He edited These Words Expose Us, the anthology of Nigerian blog-site, The Naked Convos. He currently lives and works in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He enjoys good stories and goes scuba diving whenever he gets the chance.

READ WOLE’S “WEDNESDAY’S STORY”

For the second successive year, the Caine Prize has shortlisted three Nigerians: this time, they are Nonyelum Ekwempu; Olufunke Ogundimu; and Wole Talabi, who is a prominent member of the African Speculative Fiction Society (ASFS). Remarkable, also, is the fact that four out of the five nominees are female: Makena Onjerika, Nonyelum Ekwempu, Stacy Hardy, and Olufunke Ogundimu—a domination which echoes the 2018 Brunel Prize shortlistBrittle Paper must use this opportunity to also point out the presence of a story from Short Story Day Africa’s Migrations anthology: Stacy Hardy’s “Involution.” The anthology, last year, saw three stories from it shortlisted for the Brittle Paper Award for Fiction, with one of them winning. This fourth recognition for Migrations is a testament to the definitive work that Short Story Day Africa has done with its anthologies.

Previous winners of the Caine Prize 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); South Africa’s Lidudumalingani (2016); and Sudan’s Bushra al-Fadil (2017).

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner at Senate House Library, London, to be attended by the shortlisters.

Congratulations to Nonyelum Ekwempu, Stacy Hardy, Olufunke Ogundimu, Makena Onjerika, and Wole Talabi.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award for which he was shortlisted ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017). His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. He attended the 2018 Miles Morland Foundation Creative Writing Workshop. He is the curator of the ART NAIJA SERIES, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, ENTER NAIJA: THE BOOK OF PLACES (October, 2016), focuses on cities in Nigeria. The second, WORK NAIJA: THE BOOK OF VOCATIONS (June, 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied History and Literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies and Pop Culture, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. He has completed a collection of short stories, YOU SING OF A LONGING, and is working on a novel. He is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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