Press Release: Caine Prize receives record breaking number of entries


Friday, 20 February 2015

Caine Prize receives record-breaking number of entries In its sixteenth year the Caine Prize has received 153 qualifying short stories from 17 African countries, a record breaking number of entries.

The 2015 judges, who were announced at Ake Arts and Books Festival in Abeokuta, Nigeria at the end of last year, will meet in late April to decide on the shortlisted stories, which will be announced shortly thereafter. Each shortlisted writer will be awarded £500. The award-winning South African author Zoë Wicomb is chairing the judging panel. She will be joined by the distinguished television and radio journalist, and Chairperson of the Royal African Society Zeinab Badawi, Indian author and Man Booker Prize shortlistee Neel Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Georgetown Cóilín Parsons, and Brian Chikwava, the winner of the Caine Prize in 2004.

Last year 140 qualifying stories were submitted to the judges from 17 African countries. Caine Prize Director Dr Lizzy Attree stated, “The emergence of new Prizes for African authors and the growth of publishing on the continent means that African literature is really thriving in the 21st Century and this is reflected in the increase in eligible entries to the Caine Prize year on year.”

For the first time the new Weston Library (formerly the New Bodleian) in Oxford, UK will host the Caine Prize award ceremony as one of its first official functions in Blackwell Hall on Monday 6 July. The five shortlisted stories, alongside the stories written at the annual Caine Prize workshop, are published annually by New Internationalist in the UK and publishers in eight African countries; ‘amaBooks (Zimbabwe), Bookworld Publishers (Zambia), Cassava Republic (Nigeria), FEMRITE (Uganda), Jacana Media (South Africa), Kwani? (Kenya), Langaa Research and Publishing CIG (Cameroon), Lantern Books (Nigeria) and Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana).

This year’s workshop, which will be the thirteenth, will be held in Ghana. Caine Prize workshops are held in Africa for writers who have been shortlisted for the Caine Prize and other talented writers who have come to the Prize’s attention through the selection process. Each workshop consists of 12 writers from different African countries, who convene for ten days to read and discuss work in progress and to learn from two more experienced writers, who act as tutors or animateurs.

Included in the 2014 anthology is the story by last year’s Kenyan winner, Okwiri Oduor. Jackie Kay MBE, chair of the 2014 judging panel said of the author, "Okwiri Oduor is a writer we are all really excited to have discovered. ‘My Father's Head’ is an uplifting story about mourning - Joycean in its reach. She exercises an extraordinary amount of control and yet the story is subtle, tender and moving. It is a story you want to return to the minute you finish it."

Notes to Editors

The Caine Prize is awarded for a short story by an African writer published in English (indicative length 3,000 to 10,000 words). An African writer is taken to mean someone who was born in Africa, or who is a national of an African country, or who has a parent who is African by birth or nationality. The African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wole Soyinka and J M Coetzee, are Patrons of the Caine Prize. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne is President of the Council with Ben Okri OBE as Vice President. Jonathan Taylor CBE is the Chairman, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey OBE the Deputy Chairperson and Dr Lizzy Attree Director.

The New Internationalist edition of The Gonjon Pin was published in July 2014. (ISBN 978-1-78026-174-4 print; 978-1-78026-175-1 ebook). All Caine Prize anthologies are available direct from the publishers or from the Africa Book Centre, African Books Collective or Amazon.

Previous winners are Sudan’s Leila Aboulela (2000), Nigerian Helon Habila (2001), Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Kenyan Yvonne Owuor (2003), Zimbabwean Brian Chikwava (2004), Nigerian Segun Afolabi (2005), South African Mary Watson (2006), Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007), South African Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008), Nigerian EC Osondu (2009), Sierra Leonean Olufemi Terry (2010), Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo (2011), Nigerian Rotimi Babatunde (2012), Nigerian Tope Folarin (2013) and Kenyan Okwiri Oduor (2014).

The Caine Prize is principally supported by The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, The Miles Morland Foundation, the Booker Prize Foundation, Sigrid Rausing & Eric Abraham, Weatherly International plc, China Africa Resources, and CSL Stockbrokers. Other funders and partners include The Beit Trust, The British Council, the Bodleian Library, Georgetown University (USA), The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, the Royal Over-Seas League, The Lennox and Wyfold Foundation and Kenya Airways. The Caine Prize is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years. 3

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