The winner of the Caine prize 2014 will be announced in some few days’ time after several readings which is lined up before the event in London . Known as the African Booker prize, this year’s shortlist which was announced by Nigeria’s Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka in April at Port-Harcourt , reveals no Nigerian on the shortlist. Though in previous years ,many Nigerians have been shortlisted amongst whom are Chimamanda Adiche and Tope Folarin . Folarin won the 2013 Caine prize in which three of the other shortlisted authors for that year were Nigerians.
This year’s shortlist includes Okwiri Oduor who is Kenyan, her short story is titled “My Father’s Head in Feast,” which is about a woman who tries to draw a picture of her dead father. The trouble is that while she’s able to draw his body, she can’t seem to recall what his head looks like. The imagery in the story sat side by side with detailed graphical representation. Each description is with a firm grip of my mind, maybe because the title already presupposes a dance around sultry imaginations. It was an excellent dance step.
Another Kenyan, Billy Kahora was shortlisted for his “The Gorilla’s Apprentice”. The story is about an old, orphaned Gorilla and a teenage boy. As the gorilla gradually loses its eye-sight, the boy searches for a deeper connection with the beast, this short story has a dying plot.
Zimbabewean writer Tendai’s Huchu short story “The Intervention” is set in London, a living room full of Zimbabweans caught in an awkward moment on the day the nation’s election result is announced on Al Jazeera. This has a great plot but also had a narrow theme of politics and sour love.
Ghana’s Efemia Chela’s “Chicken” is based three vignettes in which a character reflects on coming of age as a young woman in an African city. The first vignette captures the domestic flourish of an extended African family life. The second is an account of her bohemian post-university life of sexual experimentation. The third is her reclaiming her feminine body sort of through the experience of an irrevocable loss.
South African Diane Awerbuck who is fifth on the shortlist is the author of “Gardening at Night 2003”, which was awarded the Commonwealth Best First Book Award Africa and the Caribbean and was shortlisted for the International Dublin IMPAC Award. Her short story “Phosphorescence” tells the story of a grandmother who goes skinny-dipping in the sea with her granddaughter.
The Caine Prize for African Writing is named in memory of the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker Plc. He was Chairman of Africa 95, and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for almost 25 years.
The first prize was awarded in 2000, at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair 2000 in Harare, and the 2001 Prize at the Nairobi Book Fair in September 2001 The winner is announced at a dinner in Oxford in July, to which the shortlisted candidates are all invited. This is part of a week of activities for the candidates, including bookreadings, booksignings and press opportunities.