A record 140 qualifying stories from 17 African countries have been submitted for this year’s Caine Prize for African writing, a marked increase in entries that signifies both the importance of the prize and the resurgence of African writing. Last year’s prize attracted 96 entries in comparison.
The judges of this year’s Caine Prize for African Writing were announced last month, and for the second year running, a past winner of the prize will be part of the panel. 2001 Prize Winner Helon Habila will join this year’s panel chair, award-winning author Jackie Kay MBE, distinguished novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo, Zimbabwean journalist Percy Zvomuya, and Assistant Professor of English at the University of Georgetown Dr Nicole Rizzuto.
The judges will meet in late April to decide on the shortlisted stories, which will be announced shortly thereafter. To commemorate fifteen years of the Caine Prize this year, £500 will be awarded to each shortlisted writer. The winning story will be announced at a dinner at the Bodleian Library in Oxford on Monday 14 July. The five shortlisted stories, alongside the stories written at the annual Caine Prize workshop, are published annually by New Internationalist (UK), Jacana Media (South Africa), Cassava Republic (Nigeria), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE (Uganda), Bookworld Publishers (Zambia) and amaBooks (Zimbabwe).
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.