The five writer shortlist for the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced by Chair of judges, award-winning South African writer Zoë Wicomb. In a sign of the established calibre to be found in African writing and as the Caine Prize matures in its sixteenth year, the shortlist includes one past winner and two previously shortlisted writers.
Chair of judges, Zoë Wicomb described the shortlist as, “an exciting crop of well-crafted stories.”
“For all the variety of themes and approaches, the shortlist has in common a rootedness in socio-economic worlds that are pervaded with affect, as well as keen awareness of the ways in which the ethical is bound up with aesthetics. Unforgettable characters, drawn with insight and humour, inhabit works ranging from classical story structures to a haunting, enigmatic narrative that challenges the conventions of the genre.”
She added, “Above all, these stories speak of the pleasure of reading fiction. It will be no easy task to settle on a winner.”
Each shortlisted writer receives £500 and the winner of the £10,000 prize will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner at the Weston Library, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, on Monday 6 July.
The 2015 shortlist comprises:
Segun Afolabi (Nigeria) for “The Folded Leaf” in Wasafiri (Wasafiri, London, 2014)
Caine Prize winner 2005 for “Monday Morning”
Segun Afolabi was born in Kaduna, Nigeria, and grew up in Canada, the Congo, Indonesia, Germany and Hong Kong. His first novel, Goodbye Lucille, was published in 2007 and won the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award in the UK. His first book, A Life Elsewhere, a short story collection, was published in 2006 and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Afolabi was awarded the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2005. He lives in London.
Elnathan John (Nigeria) for “Flying” in Per Contra (Per Contra, International, 2014)
Shortlisted in 2013 for “Bayan Layi”
Elnathan John is a full time writer who lives and works in Nigeria. His writing has been published in Per Contra, ZAM Magazine, Hazlitt, Evergreen Review, and Chimurenga’s The Chronic. He writes political satire for a Nigerian newspaper and his blog for which he hopes to someday get arrested and famous. He has tried hard, but has never won anything. His first novel is due from Cassava Republic Press in 2015 and Grove Atlantic’s Black Cat in 2016. He is a 2015 Civitella Ranieri fellow.
F. T. Kola (South Africa) for “A Party for the Colonel” in One Story (One Story, inc. Brooklyn, New York City, 2014)
F.T. Kola was born in South Africa, grew up in Australia, and lived in London and New York City before pursuing an MFA at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, Austin, where she is a fellow in fiction. “A Party For The Colonel” is her first published story.
Masande Ntshanga (South Africa) for “Space” in Twenty in 20 (Times Media, South Africa, 2014)
Masande Ntshanga is the winner of the 2013 PEN International New Voices Award. He was born in East London in 1986 and grew up between Mdantsane, Zeleni, Bhisho, King William’s Town, Estcourt, Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town. He started writing as a teenager, perhaps in response to transition, and published his first story at eighteen. He graduated with a degree in Film and Media and an Honours degree in English Studies from UCT, where he became a creative writing fellow, completing his Masters in Creative Writing under the Mellon Mays Foundation. He received a Fulbright Award and an NRF Freestanding Masters scholarship. His stories have appeared in Laugh It Off, itch, Imago and Habitat. He has also written for Rolling Stone magazine. His debut novel, The Reactive, was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House.
Namwali Serpell (Zambia) for “The Sack” in Africa39 (Bloomsbury, London, 2014)
Shortlisted in 2010 for “Muzungu”
Namwali Serpell was born in Zambia in 1980. Her first published story, “Muzungu,” was selected for the Best American Short Stories 2009 and shortlisted for the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing. She received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award in 2011. In 2014, she was selected as one of the most promising African writers for the Africa 39 Anthology, a project of the Hay festival. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The Believer, n+1, McSweeney’s (forthcoming), Bidoun, Callaloo, The San Francisco Chronicle, The L.A. Review of Books, and The Guardian. She is an associate professor in the University of California, Berkeley English department; her first book of literary criticism, Seven Modes of Uncertainty, was published in 2014.
Source: The Caine Prize