The Caine Prize for African Writing is an annual literature prize awarded to the writer of an African short story published in English. The prize was launched in 2000 to highlight the rich diversity of African writing by bringing it to a wider international audience. The focus on the short story reflects the contemporary development of the African storytelling tradition.
Judging the prize this year are celebrated actor Adjoa Andoh; authors Muthoni Garland and Mary Watson; Robert Patterson, Professor of African American Studies at Georgetown University; and Chair of the Judges is Delia Jarrett-Macauley.
The shortlisted authors are Abdul Adan for ‘The Lifebloom Gift’ published in The Gonjon Pin and Other Stories; Lesley Nneka Arimah for ‘What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky’ published in Catapult; Tope Folarin for ‘Genesis’ published in Callaloo; Bongani Kona for ‘At Your Requiem’ published in Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You; and Lidudumalingani for ‘Memories we Lost’ also published in Incredible Journey: Stories That Move You.
Students of SOAS University of London attended an evening to meet the shortlisted authors. The evening was chaired by Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, research associate of the Centre of African Studies, SOAS, and presenter of the BBC’s Lost Kingdoms of Africa TV series. The informal panel discussion inspired a lot of lively debate, not only concerning the works of the individual authors, but on wider topics regarding the Prize itself, such as the possibility of opening up the competition to authors not writing in English.
The event proved a thought-provoking and entertaining taster for 2017, when SOAS will be hosting the Caine Prize award ceremony and dinner.
The Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa at SOAS offers many opportunities for studying African literature, both written in English and in African languages.
The MA in African Literature enables students to engage critically with varied aspects of oral and written literatures in Africa. The programme is unique in the way it encourages exploration of relationships between indigenous African aesthetics and contemporary literary theories.