Nii Ayikwei Parkes

Nii Ayikwei Parkes

The Caine Prize 2017 judges have been announced and they are led by award winning author, poet and, editor Nii Ayikwei Parkes. He will be joined by Monica Arac de Nyeko, Professor Ricardo Ortiz, Ghazi Gheblawi, and Dr Ranka Primorac.

The applications for the Caine Prize for Africa Literature will be closing on 31st January 2017. The unique thing about this prize is that, apart from the 10,000 pound prize money, the entries can only be made by publishers. If none of your work has been published in recent months this isn’t the prize where you chance with your hastily written short story.

The team at Caine figured it was only fair that entrants would know who would be looking through your entries; this is to show that this is a legit prize and isn’t of those that are taking from the continent and only benefiting people based in London.

The chair of the prize this year is Nii Ayikwei Parkes. He has been featured a helluva lot on this blog with good reason. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck (University of London) and is a 2007 recipient of Ghana’s national ACRAG award for poetry and literary advocacy. Nii’s début novel Tail of the Blue Bird was shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Prize and his work has been translated into Italian, French, Chinese, Dutch, German and Arabic. His latest books of poetry are the Michael Marks Award-shortlisted pamphlet, ballast: a remix (2009) and The Makings of You (Peepal Tree Press).

Parkes, said, “I have been a consumer of fiction from Africa for close to four decades, revelling in its range, its humour, its insights and dynamic linguistic palette. So, I am ecstatic to be asked to chair the panel for this year’s Caine Prize and look forward to working with this incredible assembly of judges. There is, of course, the selfish pleasure, as an editor, of getting a first look at some of the finest writing coming from the continent and its foreign branches.”

Monica Arac de Nyeko

Monica Arac de Nyeko

He will be joined by Monica Arac de Nyeko a Ugandan writer of short fiction, poetry, and essays, living in Nairobi. In 2007 she became the first Ugandan to win the Caine Prize for African Writing, with her story Jambula Tree.

Dr Ranka Primorac

Dr Ranka Primorac

Then there is African literary scholar Dr Ranka Primorac. She is a Lecturer in English at the University of Southampton with degrees from the universities of Zagreb, Zimbabwe and Nottingham Trent. She sits on the Editorial Board of The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, the Advisory Board of Journal of Southern African Studies and the Council of the African Studies Association of the UK. Together with Stephanie Newell, she co-edits Boydell and Brewer’s African Articulations book series.

Professor Ricardo Ortiz

Professor Ricardo Ortiz

Also on the panel will be Professor Ricardo Ortiz the chair of the English Department at Georgetown University. He is also the writer behind 2006’s Cultural Erotics in Cuban America.

Ghazi Gheblawi

Ghazi Gheblawi

Ghazi Gheblawi is a Libyan author, blogger, activist, and physician. He has published two collections of short stories and poems in Arabic. In 2006, he was invited to read his poetry at the African Writers’ Evening at the Poetry Café in Convent Garden. Several of Gheblawi’s English-language poems have appeared in literary magazines. He is currently a clinical lecturer at the Teaching Center of Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

You will note that all the judges are based in the UK. Are there no residents based of the continent who can qualify to judge such prizes you wonder? For those who want to enter this prize these are some dates that you need to put in your diary.

31 January 2017 – submission deadline

Mid May – shortlist announced

3 July – winner announced at Senate House, Oxford.

Please note that the prize which is in its 17th year continues to be handed out in a ceremony in a leading UK university. Again we are left to wonder if a prize that prides itself on being the leading prize discovering African writers couldn’t be bothered to have a ceremony in the place it is talking about.

That said, good luck entrants. Money is on the line here. And some literary glory.