The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing has announced the shortlist for its 22nd edition. Yet again, the cohort is impressively diverse, featuring writers from Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Kenya.
The shortlist is record-setting. For the first time in recent history, four out of the five finalists are women. Also, Ghana has more than one finalist with Nana-Ama Danquah and Billie McTernan. This is the second time we are seeing two Ghanaians on the shortlist in the history of the prize. Three out of the five finalists are published by a single publisher, the independent Brooklyn-based press Akashic Books in its “noir” series: Accra Noir, edited by Danquah herself which features the shortlisted stories by Danquah and McTernan, and Addis Ababa Noir, edited by Maaza Mengiste and featuring the shortlisted work of Ethiopian writer Hannah Giorgis.
Afritondo Magazine makes a second appearance, this time with the Nigerian writer Joshua Chizoma, a two-time finalist for the Afritondo prize. At twenty-four, Chizoma equally happens to be one of the youngest finalists in the Caine prize’s history.
Also on the shortlist is Kenyan writer Idza Luhumyo for her Short Story Day Africa-winning story published by catalyst press. Luhumyo follows in the footsteps of Okwiri Oduor who won the SSDA Prize in 2013 and went on to win the Caine Prize for the same story the following year.
The winner of the 2022 Caine Prize will receive a cash award of £10,000. The rest of the finalists will receive £500.
See the finalists and links to their stories below. Read reviews of the stories here. And find author bios further down.
- Joshua Chizoma (Nigeria) for “Collector of Memories” [read here]
- Nana-Ama Danquah (Ghana) for “When a Man Loves a Woman” [read here]
- Hannah Giorgis (Ethiopia) for “A Double-Edged Inheritance” [read here]
- Idza Luhumyo (Kenya) for “Five Years Next Sunday” [read here]
- Billie McTernan (Ghana) for “The Labadi Sunshine Bar” [read here]
The 2022 edition received a total of 349 entries from 27 African countries – a 130% increase. The finalists were selected by a judging panel, which was chaired by the Nigerian writer and academic Okey Ndibe, and comprised the Germany-based literary scholar Elisa Diallo, the South African academic and curator Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane, the Nigerian visual artist Asiko Okelarin, and the Kenyan publisher Angel Wachuka.
Ndibe remarks that “The 2022 entries represented a staggering feast. It was a testament to the vibrancy, variety and splendour of creative talent among writers of African descent.”
The winner will be announced at a ceremony held at the V&A in London on Monday 18th July 2022. The ceremony coincides with the Africa Fashion exhibition – an exhibition which celebrates the global impact of contemporary African fashion. The award ceremony will be the final event in a UK tour for the shortlisted authors. Stops include a partnered event with The National Centre for Writing and the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and, in London, Candid Book Club and independent bookshop Libreria.
All of the finalists will be published in The AKO Caine Prize anthology alongside stories written at the AKO Caine Prize Workshop, held this year in Ghana.
Congratulations to the writers! Learn more about their writing in the bios below.
Bios of Shortlisted Writers
Joshua Chizoma is a Nigerian writer. His works have been published or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Lolwe, AFREADA, Entropy Magazine, Anathema Magazine, Agbowo Magazine, and Prachya Review. His story, ‘A House Called Joy’ won the 2018 Kreative Diadem Prize in the flash fiction category. He won the 2020 Awele Creative Trust Short Story Prize with his short story “Their Boy” and was shortlisted for the 2021 Afritondo Short Story Prize. He is an alumnus of the 2019 Purple Hibiscus Creative Writing Workshop taught by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Nana-Ama Danquah was born in Accra, Ghana and immigrated to the US as a child. She is the author of the memoir Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression and editor of the anthologies Becoming American, Shaking the Tree, The Black Body and, most recently, Accra Noir. Her work has been widely anthologized and published in magazines and newspapers such as Essence, the Washington Post, the Village Voice, and the Los Angeles Times. She has taught at Otis College of Arts and Design; Antioch College; University of Ghana; and, NYU in Ghana.
Hannah Giorgis is a staff writer at The Atlantic. The daughter of Ethiopian immigrants, she lives in Brooklyn by way of Southern California. Her criticism and reporting have appeared in publications including the New York Times magazine, The Guardian, and Pitchfork. Hannah’s short stories have appeared in the Addis Ababa Noir anthology, the Lifted Brow literary journal, and SPOOK magazine. She was the recipient of the 2018 Yoojin Grace Wuertz Writers of Immigration and Diaspora fellowship at the Jack Jones Literary Arts retreat and the 2021 Writer-in-Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Most recently, Hannah co-wrote Ida B. The Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells, a dedication to the pioneering American journalist and advocate, with Wells’ great-granddaughter, Michelle Duster.
Idza Luhumyo is a Kenyan writer. Her work has been published by Popula, Jalada Africa, The Writivism Anthology, Baphash Literary & Arts Quarterly, MaThoko’s Books, Gordon Square Review, Amsterdam’s ZAM Magazine, Short Story Day Africa, the New Internationalist, The Dark, and African Arguments. Her work has been shortlisted for the Short Story Day Africa Prize, the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship, and the Gerald Kraak Award. She is the inaugural winner of the Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award (2020) and winner of the Short Story Day Africa Prize (2021).
Billie McTernan is a writer and artist who experiments with literary and visual art forms. She has an MFA from the Kwame Nkrumah School of Science and Technology in Kumasi, and has published many articles and essays from her travels in West Africa. As a storyteller, she is drawn to the ways that stories are manifested, be it through the body in dance and performance, or through literature, sound and visual arts. She has been published in TSA Art Magazine, ARTnews, Artsy, Financial Times Life & Arts, Contemporary And, ARTS.BLACK and other independent artist-run platforms. She is currently working on a piece that falls somewhere between a short story and a novel.