The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing has announced the shortlist for its 23rd edition. This year’s cohort is stunningly diverse, featuring writers from Senegal, Botswana, Nigeria, and Uganda.
The Caine Prize for African Writing is an esteemed annual award honoring outstanding African writers and celebrates the richness and diversity of African literature. The five shortlisted stories were carefully selected from a pool of 297 entries originating from 28 African countries.
The shortlisted writers for the 2023 Caine Prize for African Writing are:
- Yejide Kilanko (Nigeria) for “This Tangible Thing“, HarperVia (2023) – Read here
- Tlotlo Tsamaase (Botswana) for “Peeling Time (Deluxe Edition)”, TorDotCom (2022) – Read here
- Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo (Senegal) for “A Soul of Small Places“, TorDotCom (2022) – Read here
- Ekemini Pius (Nigeria) for “Daughters, By Our Hands“, Isele Magazine (2022) – Read here
- Yvonne Kusiima (Uganda) for “Weaving“, Isele Magazine (2022) – Read here
This year’s prize and shortlist was unique in many ways. 4 out of the 6 shortlisted finalists reside in Africa, with two from the diaspora. This year’s shortlist also boasts a joint submission and an all-women judging panel, marking significant milestones in the history of the Caine Prize.
Fareda Banda, Chair of Judges, and professor of Law at SOAS, University of London, expressed her thoughts on the shortlist:
Together, we have meticulously reviewed and debated 230 eligible submissions, ultimately narrowing it down to the final five. The entries we received showcased the depth and breadth of writing on the continent and beyond. These stories span generations, genres, and themes; challenging, stimulating, and delighting us. They embrace speculative fiction and artivism, highlighting the power of engaging and innovative storytelling in addressing gender-based violence and reproductive autonomy. Additionally, they explore inter-generational wisdom and the sense of alienation experienced by diasporic youth. Each story deserves recognition, as they all captivated us.
The judging panel includes Chair of Judges, Fareda Banda along with Edwige-Renée Dro, a writer, literary translator, and literary activist; Kadija George Sesay, editor and founder of Mboka Festival; Jendella Benson, author and Head of Editorial at Black Ballad; and Warsan Shire, a multi-award winning writer and poet who recently collaborated with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter on her Peabody Award-winning visual album Lemonade and the Disney film Black Is King.
The winner is awarded a £10,000 prize. The five shortlisted writers will attend a series of events in London, including public readings, interviews with media institutions, and private events with agents.
The winner of the 2023 Caine Prize will be announced at a ceremony held on Monday, October 2, 2023 in London, UK. Good luck to all the finalists!
Congratulations to the writers! Learn more about their writing in the bios below.
Yejide Kilanko was born in Ibadan, Nigeria. She writes poetry and fiction. Kilanko’s debut novel, Daughters Who Walk This Path, a Canadian national bestseller, was longlisted for the 2016 Nigeria Prize for Literature. Her short fiction is included in the anthology, New Orleans Review 2017: The African Literary Hustle. Kilanko’s latest novel, A Good Name, was published in 2021. Kilanko lives in Ontario, Canada where she practices as a social worker.
Tlotlo Tsamaase is a Motswana author (xe/xem/xer or she/her pronouns). Tlotlo’s debut adult novel, Womb City, comes out in January 2024 from Erewhon Books. Xer novella, The Silence of the Wilting Skin, is a 2021 Lambda Literary Award finalist and was shortlisted for a 2021 Nommo Award. Tlotlo has received support from the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, and xer story “Behind Our Irises” is the joint winner of the Nommo Award for Best Short Story (2021). Tlotlo’s short fiction has appeared in News Suns 2, Africa Risen, The Best of World SF Volume 1, Clarkesworld, Terraform, and Africanfuturism Anthology, and is forthcoming in Chiral Mad 5. Xe obtained a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Botswana and won an award for design architecture. Tsamaase is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Chapman University.
Mame Bougouma Diene is a Franco –Senegalese American humanitarian based in Pretoria, the francophone spokesperson for the African Speculative Fiction Society (http://www.africansfs.com/), the French language editor for Omenana Magazine, and a regular columnist at Strange Horizons. You can find his fiction and nonfiction work in Omenana, Galaxies SF, Edilivres, Fiyah! Truancy Magazine, EscapePod, Mythaxis, Apex Magazine and TorDotCom; and in anthologies such as AfroSFv2 & V3 (Storytime), Myriad Lands (Guardbridge Books), You Left Your Biscuit Behind (Fox Spirit Books), This Book Ain’t Nuttin to Fuck Wit (Clash Media), Africanfuturism (Brittle Paper), Dominion (Aurelia Leo), Meteotopia (Future Fiction/Co-Futures in English and Italian), Bridging Worlds (Jembefola Press) and Africa Risen (TorDotCom). His novelette The Satellite Charmer is translated in Italian by Moscabianca Edizioni, his novelette Ogotemmeli’s Song is translated in Bangla (Joydhak Prakashan). He was nominated for several Nommo Awards, and his debut collection “Dark Moons Rising on a Starless Night” (Clash Books) was nominated for the 2019 Splatterpunk Award.
Woppa Diallo is a lawyer with a specialisation in human rights, humanitarian action and peace promotion. She is a feminist activist committed to social change and the realisation of women’s rights. Woppa founded Association pour le Maintien des Filles à l’Ecole (AMFE) at fifteen in Matam, Senegal, to ensure fair access to education for girls, eradicate gender-based stereotypes, promote sexual & reproductive health, and the continued socialisation of girls-victims of gender-based violence.
Ekemini Pius is a Nigerian writer and editor who lives in Calabar, Nigeria. His works have been published in the Kendeka Prize for African Literature anthology, the K & L Prize anthology, Afro Literary Magazine, and Isele Magazine. His story, ‘Time and Bodies’ was shortlisted for the 2021 Kendeka Prize for African Literature. He was also shortlisted for the 2022 Awele Creative Trust Short Story Prize. He is an alumnus of the 2019 Wawa Literary Fellowship and was a finalist for the 2022 Guest Artist Space Fellowship. He is currently working on his debut novel.
Yvonne Kusiima is a writer from Kampala, Uganda with a degree in Social Sciences. She is interested in the complexities of human societies and aims to shake things up to make this world a better place. She believes stories have the power to change the status quo, one word at a time. Her work has been published in African Writer Magazine, Kalahari Review, Brittle Paper, The Hektoen International Journal of Medical Humanities and Isele. Her work has been shortlisted for the Isele short story prize (2023).