Caine Prize sees a record number of entries

In its seventeenth year the Caine Prize for African Writing has received a record breaking number of eligible entries: 166 short stories from writers representing 23 African countries. The 2016 judges, who were announced in London last month, will meet in early May to decide on the shortlisted stories, which will be announced shortly thereafter.

The panel of judges will be chaired by the distinguished author and broadcaster Delia Jarrett-Macauley. She will be joined by the acclaimed film, television and theatre actor, Adjoa Andoh; the writer and founding member of the Nairobi based writers’ collective, Storymoja, and founder of the Storymoja Festival, Muthoni Garland; Associate Professor and Director of African American Studies at Georgetown University, Washington DC, Dr Robert J Patterson; and South African writer, and 2006 Caine Prize winner, Mary Watson.

Caine Prize Director, Dr Lizzy Attree, commented on the entries, saying: “Once again we have received a record number of entries and we are delighted that so many of the best writers and publishers in Africa chose to submit their work. We are also excited to see an increase in the number of countries represented among the work submitted. Alongside nations with long histories of representation in both our shortlist and the roll call of winners, countries, like Ethiopia, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Gambia, entered work which our judges now have the enviable task of reading and judging.”

Today the Caine Prize islaunching a redesigned website, Dr Attree commented on this, saying, “We are proud to launch our versatile and redesigned www.caineprize.com today which was made possible thanks to generous support from Sigrid Rausing.”

Once again, Blackwell Hall, Bodleian Libraries, in Oxford, UK, will host the Caine Prize award ceremony on Monday 4 July 2016.

“The Sack” by Zambian Namwali Serpell won the 2015 prize and is included in the Caine Prize 2015 anthology, Lusaka Punk, which includes all shortlisted stories and others. Chair of judges Zoë Wicomb praised the story, when it won, saying, “From a very strong shortlist we have picked an extraordinary story about the aftermath of revolution with its liberatory promises shattered. It makes demands on the reader and challenges conventions of the genre. It yields fresh meaning with every reading.  Formally innovative, stylistically stunning, haunting and enigmatic in its effects. ‘The Sack’ is a truly luminous winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing.”

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Notes to Editors

The Caine Prize, awarded annually for African creative writing, 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. The 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.

This year 166 short stories from writers representing 23 African countries were received and entered into the 2016 Caine Prize. Last year 153 qualifying stories were submitted to the judges from 17 countries.

Full biographies of the 2016 judges are available at https://caineprize.com/the-judges-2016

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, Ben Okri OBE is Vice President, Jonathan Taylor CBE is the Chairman, Ellah Wakatama Allfrey OBE is the Deputy Chairperson and Dr Lizzy Attree is the Director.

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 Tope Folarin (2013), Kenyan Okwiri Oduor (2014); and Zambian Namwali Serpell (2015).

The five shortlisted stories, alongside stories written at Caine Prize workshop to be held in Zambia in March 2016, are published annually by New Internationalist (UK), Jacana Media (South Africa), LanternBooks (United States), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE (Uganda), Bookworld Publishers (Zambia), Langaa Research and Publishing (Cameroon) and ‘amaBooks (Zimbabwe). Books are available from the publishers or from the Africa Book Centre, African Books Collective or Amazon.

The New Internationalist 2015 anthology was published in July 2015 (ISBN 978-1-78026-228-4) and is available at http://newint.org/books/fiction/caine-prize-2015/

The Caine Prize is supported by The Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, The Miles Morland Foundation, The Carnegie Corporation, the Booker Prize Foundation, Sigrid Rausing & Eric Abraham, Prudential Plc, The Beit Trust, CSL Stockbrokers, the Morel Trust, The British Council, The Wyfold Charitable Trust, the Royal Over-Seas League, Commonwealth Writers, an initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation, Adam and Victoria Freudenheim, John and Judy Niepold, Arindam Bhattacherjee and other generous donors.