Caine Prize 2008 shortlist announced

The shortlist for the 2008 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced (Tuesday 6 May 2008).

With over 90 entries coming in from 17 African countries, the shortlist is once again a reflection of the Caine Prize’s pan-African reach.  The winner of the £10,000 prize is to be announced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, on Monday, 7 July.

The 2008 shortlist comprises:

·        Mohammed Naseehu Ali (Ghana) Mallam Sile’, from The Prophet of Zongo’, published by Amistad, an imprint of Harper Collins, NY, 2005

·        Stanley Onjezani Kenani (Malawi) For Honour’ from African Pens’, published by Spearhead, an imprint of New Africa Books, Cape Town, 2007

·        Henrietta Rose-Innes (South Africa) Poison’ from Africa Pens’, published by Spearhead, an imprint of New Africa Books, Cape Town, 2007

·        Gill Schierhout (South Africa) The Day of the Surgical Colloquium’ from African Pens’, published by Spearhead, an imprint of New Africa Books, Cape Town, 2007

·        Uzor Maxim Uzoatu (Nigeria) Cemetery of Life’ from Wasafiri’ No52 Autumn 2007

This year’s panel of judges is chaired by the Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre, Jude Kelly OBE, who is responsible for creating a unified artistic vision for the whole 21 acre site. An experienced director of over 100 productions, she was awarded an OBE for services to the theatre in 1997 and is Chair of Culture, Ceremonies and Education at the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.

Joining her on the panel is Jamaican poet and professor of English, Mark McMorris, Hisham Matar, the Libyan author of the internationally successful first novel, In the Country of Men, Eritrean-born Hannah Pool, a Guardian journalist, and the previous 2007 judge, South African poet, novelist and lecturer Jonty Driver.

Once again the winner of the £10,000 Caine Prize, known as Africa’s Booker Prize, will be given the opportunity of taking up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, Washington DC, as a Caine Prize/Georgetown University Writer-in-Residence’. The award will cover all travel and living expenses.

Last year’s winner was Uganda’s Monica Arac de Nyeko, for Jambula Tree from African Love Stories’.  The story was described by last year’s chair of judges, Jamal Mahjoub, as a witty and touching portrait of a community which is affected forever by a love which blossoms between two adolescents. Monica is currently in Nairobi working on her first novel.

This is the ninth year of The Caine Prize for African Writing. Previous winners include, South Africa’s Mary Watson for Jungfrau from Moss, Kwela Books, 2004, who is currently in Cape Town and also working on her first novel; and Segun Afolabi from Nigeria for Monday Morning published by Wasafiri (2004), later published in his first collection of short stories, A Life Elsewhere. Segun has completed his first novel Goodbye Lucille.

Helon Habila, the 2001 Caine Prize winner, has published his third novel, Waiting for an Angel described by Doris Lessing as, tender, funny and compassionate’. Kenya’s Binyavanga Wainaina, 2002 winner of the Prize, is the founding editor of the literary magazine, Kwani? He is currently Writer-in-Residence at Union College and working on a memoir which is to be published by Granta Books.

This year the shortlisted writers will be reading from their work at the Royal Over-Seas League on Friday, 4 July at 7pm and at the South Bank Centre literary festival on Sunday, 6 July at 7pm. There will also be a seminar at the Institute for English Studies, Senate House, University of London, on Wednesday, 9 July at 1.30pm.


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