A teenage boy confronts a father wasting away from an unknown disease in a South African township in the early 1990s. A blind Nigerian girl stifles a flicker of hope that she will be healed at the hands of a Lagos mega-church preacher. An Indian South African couple tip-toe along apartheid’s racial boundaries at a gala in a white Johannesburg hotel.
These are some of the shards of modern Africa on display in the stories named Tuesday as finalists for this year’s Caine Prize, an annual short-fiction award for English language African writing. Drawn from a record 153 entries hailing from 17 countries, the five finalists are writers of diverse trajectories — from a duo of internationally acclaimed Nigerians to a South African-Australian lawyer whose nominated story is her first published work.