The shortlist for the Caine prize for African writing, announced this morning, saw a surprising and contrasting blend of geezerhood and young blood trailing it.
The £10,000 annual short story award, which celebrates African writers, has an initial shortlist of five writers selected from tens of entries across Africa.
This years shortlist which was announced by Nii Ayikwe Parked, the Chair of judges and an award winning author, poet and editor, features a former Caine Prize shortistee and a story translated form Arabic for the second time in the 18 year history of the Prize.
A brief remark by Nii Parkes before revealing the shortlist, reads;
‘This year’s submissions were a pleasure to read; we were all impressed by the quality and imaginative ambition of the work received. Indeed, there were a dozen stories that did not make the shortlist that would win other competitions.’
Also adding, he said, ‘there seemed to be a theme of transition in many of the stories. Whether it’s an ancient myth brought to life in a contemporary setting, a cyber attack-triggered wave of migration and colonisation, an insatiable quest for motherhood, an entertaining surreal ride that hints at unspeakable trauma, or the loss of a parent in the midst of a personal identity crisis, these writers juxtapose future, past and present to ask important questions about the world we live in.’
‘Although they range in tone from the satirical to the surreal, all five stories on this year’s shortlist are unrelentingly haunting. It has been a wonderful journey so far and we look forward to selecting a winner. It will be a hard job, but I’ve always believed that you can’t go wrong with a Ghanaian at the helm of an international panel.’
The five man shortlist and the corresponding stories and publishers includes;
Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria) for ‘Who Will Greet You At Home’ published in The New Yorker (USA. 2015)
Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria) for ‘Bush Baby’ published in African Monsters , eds. Margarét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas (Fox Spirit Books, USA. 2015)
Bushra al-Fadil (Sudan) for ‘The Story of the Girl whose Birds Flew Away’, translated by Max Shmookler, published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction eds. Raph Cormack & Max Shmookler (Comma Press, UK. 2016)
Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) for ‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’ published in A Public Space 24 (A Public Space Literary Projects Inc., USA. 2016)
Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa) for ‘The Virus’ published in The Harvard Review 49
(Houghton Library Harvard University, USA. 2016)
Now these are the surprises in the shortlist;
Nigeria’s Arinze Ifeakandu is the youngest ever to be shortlisted at just 22. More surprising is the fact that his story was written four years ago, when he was just 18.
The other surprise is the 65year old Sudanese poet, Bushes al-fadil. He also holds a PhD in Russian Language.