And the 2016 Caine Prize winner is…

Yes, it’s that time of year again! In about two weeks, the 2016 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 (click on links to my reviews):

  • Leila Aboulela, from Sudan (2000) – author of novels Minaret, The Translator, Lyrics Alley among other works. 
  • Binyavanga Wainaina, from Kenya (2002) – founding editor of Kwani?, author of memoir One Day I Will Write About This Place and the essay 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 the novel, Voice of America: stories.
  • NoViolet Bulawayo, from Zimbabwe (2011) – author of the novel, We Need New Names

Previously shortlisted authors include: Mia Couto from Mozambique (2001), Chimamanda Adichie from Nigeria (2002), Laila Lalami from Morocco (2006), Chinelo Okparanta from Nigeria (2013), Tendai Huchu from Zimbabwe (2014), Elnathan John from Nigeria (2013 & 2015), among others!

The Caine Prize and its shortlisted stories play a huge role in the authors I read from the continent. Many Caine Prize winners and shortlisted writers have found great success and I’ve reviewed a good number of these writers’ works here on African Book Addict!


This year, the Caine Prize shortlist comprises of five talented young writers with unique short stories (top left to bottom right):

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(Images via caineprize.com ; collage created by African Book Addict!)

Tope Folarin (Nigeria) – Read his short story: Genesis

Bongani Kona (Zimbabwe) – Read his short story: At Your Requiem

Abdul Adan (Somalia/Kenya) – Read his short story: The Lifebloom Gift

Lidudumalingani (South Africa) – Read his short story: Memories We Lost 

Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria) – Read her short story: What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky

 

I was surprised to see Tope Folarin shortlisted AGAIN, since he won the Caine Prize back in 2013 for his moving story – Miracle. Why does the Caine Prize always shortlist past shortlistees and winners? Every year, many writers submit stories in hopes of being shortlisted – they couldn’t give someone else a chance to compete to win?

Anyways, Folarin’s Genesis reminded me of his Africa39 story, New MomGenesis is a semi-autobiographical story on Folarin’s family – more specifically on his mother’s mental illness and how it affected him as a child. Genesis made me uncomfortable. I felt stressed reading the story as Folarin freely shares with the world his mother’s plight. The story is an easy read and quite engrossing which I expected, since Folarin’s strength is in his ability to write moving stories – as seen in Miracle. I appreciate Folarin shedding light on mental illness and depression – topics we Africans usually shy away from. But for some reason, I’m not okay with his mother’s illness and antics are being shared with the world (MY opinion!). If he wins the Caine Prize again, I anticipate some uproar from readers and critics.

Lesley Nneka Arimah’s story, What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky was an engaging story. This is a story about Nneoma who is a Mathematician that can detect grief and sadness from fellow Nigerians and has the power to heal them. She seems to be searching to find the next genius mathematician to train with healing powers as well. The ending had me a bit confused… But this was an enjoyable read. I’m not a big fan of science fiction but I loved the afrofuturism vibes I got from this story!

Abdul Adan’s story The Lifebloom Gift is my favorite! This story is sooo bizarre. The Lifebloom Gift is a story about a TSA officer who has an encounter with Ted Lifebloom – a 30 year old man who seems to thrive off touching moles on other peoples’ bodies. Once Ted Lifebloom touches another person’s mole, the person he’s touching is transported into a land of “green pastures where they hear the song of birds and sneezes of horses, smell the fur of dogs, feel a twitch in one of their nipples which, in turn, transforms into a brown lactating nipple…” or in short, the person understands the meaning of love (whaaat?!). The TSA officer later conducts a case study on Ted Lifebloom and goes on an adventure to find other Lifebloomers, by accessing moles on the backs of potential Lifebloomers. The story starts off a bit confusing, as it’s hard to picture what Abdul Adan is describing. But as the story unfolds, it all starts to make sense even though its still very strange. It’s actually hard to explain this story. But it was hilarious to read and oh so weird! If you don’t read any of these stories at all, at least read The Lifebloom Gift! It’s truly an original and creative story. I hope Abdul Adan wins the 2016 Caine Prize!

Which story is your favorite? Who do you think will win the Caine Prize this year?

The winner will be announced on the 4th of July at the Weston Library, Oxford, England. Good luck to all the shortlisted candidates!

You can also check out my commentary on the Caine Prize from 2014 – here & 2015 – here :).

Book Chat :: Do you lend your books?

Hey everyone!

From time to time, I’d like to pick your brains on different topics that I think interest and affect all book lovers. Today, I’m really curious to know from you all: Do you lend your books to others?

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Image via EpicReads

Let’s chat, shall we?

There have been times when friends have NOT returned the books I lent them. To this day, one of my best friends still has one of my favorite books in her possession (I gave it to her back in 2009 and I eventually had to stop asking for the book back, since she didn’t seem to know where she put it -_-). Other friends who eventually returned books I lent, brought them back with either oil smudges on the pages, discombobulated book spines or limp-looking, torn paperback covers – basically, damaged books.

I feel very connected to the (physical) books I own – am I alone here? I’ve connected with various characters, places and incidents from the books I read. Some of my books have notes I jotted down on the pages, some passages are underlined and some pages are marked for future referencing and whatnot. So right now, I do not like to lend my books to anyone anymore (well, I do share my books with my Mom. She’s an original book lover, so she respects books! And I usually read her books, so its only fair to share mine too haha).

I’m learning to say ‘no’ to lending my books. But it’s not easy to say no – I don’t want a friend or family member to feel offended or think I’m being selfish for not wanting to lend them. Books shouldn’t be the cause of sour relations between individuals… but honestly, after all the bad experiences I’ve had with lending, I’d rather purchase the book of interest for a friend, instead of loaning my copy.

How about you all:

Do you let people borrow your books? Are you attached to the physical books you own? Have you had similar instances where loved ones misplace or ‘abuse’ your cherished books? How would you tell others that you don’t usually lend out your books?

I’d love to hear your opinions, experiences and tips on your book lending policy!


By the way, I’m currently (slowly) reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest novel: In Other Words. It’s very passionate thus far!

I also attended a book reading for Elnathan John last weekend (he was shortlisted twice for the Caine Prize) and I purchased his debut novel – Born On A Tuesday, as well as Fela: This Bitch of a Life by Carlos Moore which I spotted at the bookstore where the reading was being held (Vidya Bookstore; Accra). I hope to enjoy them during summer break!

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Image via my Instagram: @AwoDeee

And the 2015 Caine Prize winner is… Namwali Serpell!

A big congratulations to Zambia’s Namwali Serpell for winning the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing!!

Namwali Serpell is the 16th 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 Weston Library, Oxford, England for all the shortlisted candidates.

Namwali Serpell won the £10,000 prize for her short story, ‘The Sack’. Initially I was miffed at how this year’s shortlist was more or less a dichotomy between South Africa and Nigeria, with one story from Zambia. Even though I was more in love with Elnathan’s story ‘Flying‘, I’m happy Zambia won this for once! I look forward to more of Serpell’s work in the future. Her short story, ‘The Sack’ can also be found in the Africa39 anthology which was published in October of last year (2014). Check out Africa39 to read more new short stories by young African writers, under the age of 39!

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 Read ‘The Sack’ by Namwali Serpell – here

And the 2014 Caine Prize winner is… Okwiri Oduor!

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!

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 Read ‘My Father’s Head’ by Okwiri Oduor – here