A big congratulations to Kenya’s Okwiri Oduor for winning the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing!!
Okwiri Oduor is the 15th winner of the Caine Prize, which is recognized as Africa’s leading literary award for short stories.
The winner was announced last night at a dinner held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England for all the shortlisted candidates.
Okwiri Oduor won the £10,000 prize for her short story, ‘My Father’s Head’. In the short story, the narrator deals with the loss of her father and tries to recollect buried memories of him. Even though the story is laden with issues of loneliness, mourning and sadness, its actually quite moving and has a courageous outlook on loss/death. Oduor is currently working on her debut novel and I can’t wait to read more of her work in the near future!
Read ‘My Father’s Head’ by Okwiri Oduor – here
In less than a week, the 2014 Caine Prize winner will be announced!
For those who are not familiar, the Caine Prize for African Writing, which was first awarded in 2000 is an award “open to writers from anywhere in Africa for work published in English. Its focus is on the short story, reflecting the contemporary development of the African story-telling tradition” (source).
Some notable winners of the Caine Prize include:
- Leila Aboulela, from Sudan (2000)– author of novels Minaret, Lyrics Alley amongst other works.
- Binyavanga Wainaina, from Kenya (2002)– founding editor of Kwani?, author of One Day I Will Write About This Place and other essays such as “How To Write About Africa” found in various literary magazines.
- Yvonne A. Owuor, from Kenya (2003)– author of the novel, Dust.
- E.C Osondu, from Nigeria (2009) – author of novel, Voice of America: stories.
- NoViolet Bulawayo, from Zimbabwe (2011) – author of novel, We Need New Names.
This year, the Caine Prize shortlist comprises of five amazingly talented young writers with unique short stories (L -> R):
- Diane Awerbuck, from South Africa. Read her story “Phosphorescence” here. Listen to the story here.
- Tendai Huchu, from Zimbabwe. He’s also the author of novel, The Hairdresser of Harare (on my To-Read List!). Read his short story “The Intervention” here. [I couldn’t find the audio for Huchu’s story!]
- Efemia Chela, from Ghana/Zambia. Read her story “Chicken” here. Listen to the story here.
- Billy Kahora, from Kenya. Read his story “The Gorilla’s Apprentice” here. Listen to the story here.
- Okwiri Oduor, from Kenya. Read her story “My Father’s Head” here. Listen to the story here.
(The biographies for the shortlisted candidates can be found – here)
It was refreshing to see a Ghanaian on this year’s shortlist. Since I’m Ghanaian I’m naturally rooting for Efemia Chela. Her short story “Chicken” is a coming-of-age narrative. The story consists of three vignettes. In the first vignette, the protagonist who is at an awkward stage in her life- in her twenties, reflects on her extended African family and the meal they shared commemorating her successful graduation from university. Chela’s description of food in this story is so vivid, it makes your mouth water!
In the second vignette of the story, the protagonist gives an account of a recent sexual encounter (with a female). In the third vignette she tries to decide what path she is to take in life- whether to become a lawyer as her parents suggest or to follow where her heart leads. Chela’s writing style is heavily descriptive, but not a drag at all! I appreciated her unique style of narrating. It suited the awkward, twenty something year old coming-of-age theme!
Which story is your favorite? Who do you think will win the Caine Prize this year?
The winner will be announced on the 14th of July in Oxford, England. Good luck to all the shortlisted candidates!