Nigeria’s Lesley Nneka Arimah has won the 20th edition of the Caine prize for African Writing. Her winning story – Skinned was selected from a shortlist of five by the judges, chaired by Peter Kimoni.
The Chair of judges, Dr. Peter Kimani, announced Lesley as the winner of the £10,000 prize at an award dinner last night (Monday 8 July).
The announcement reads:
“The winner of this year’s Caine Prize for African Writing is a unique retake of women’s struggle for inclusion in a society regulated by rituals. Lesley Nneka Arimah’s Skinned defamiliarizes the familiar to topple social hierarchies, challenge traditions and envision new possibilities for women of the world. Using a sprightly diction, she invents a dystopian universe inhabited by unforgettable characters where friendship is tested, innocence is lost, and readers gain a new understanding of life.”
Here is an excerpt of the winning story:
The unclothed woman had a neatly trimmed bush, waxed to resemble a setting sun. The
clothed women sneered as she laid out makeup and lotion samples, touting their benefits.
“Soft, smooth skin, as you can see,” she said, winking—trying, and failing, to make a joke of
her nakedness. Chidinma smiled in encouragement, nodding and examining everything
Ejem pulled out of the box. Having invited Ejem to present her wares, she would be getting
a free product out of this even if none of her guests made a purchase.
Ejem finished her sales pitch with a line about how a woman’s skin is her most important
feature and she has to take care of it like a treasured accessory. The covered women tittered and
smoothed their tastefully patterned wife-cloth over their limbs. They wore them simply, draped
and belted into long, graceful dresses, allowing the fabric to speak for itself. They eyed Ejem’s
nakedness with gleeful pity.
click Skinned to read the complete story.