The shortlist for the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing 2020 announced today, May 19, 2020, features Erica Sugo Anyadike, Chikodili Emelumadu, Jowhor Ile, Rémy Ngamije, and Irenosen Okojie.
The AKO Caine Prize is awarded annually for a short story by an African writer published in English. It is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc and Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee for nearly 25 years. Previous winners have been Leila Aboulela (2000), Helon Habila (2001), Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Yvonne Owuor (2003), Brian Chikwava (2004), Segun Afolabi (2005), Mary Watson (2006), Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007), Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008), EC Osondu (2009), Olufemi Terry (2010), NoViolet Bulawayo (2011), Rotimi Babatunde (2012), Tope Folarin (2013), Okwiri Oduor (2014), Namwali Serpell (2015), Lidudumalingani Mqobothi (2016), Bushra al-Fadil (2017), and Makena Onjerika (2018), and Lesley Nneka Arimah (2019).
Judging the AKO Caine Prize in 2020 was Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp, Director of UK’s The Africa Centre, as chair with support by Audrey Brown, South African broadcast journalist; Gabriel Gbadamosi, Irish-Nigerian poet and playwright; Ebissé Wakjira-Rouw, Ethiopian-born nonfiction editor and policy adviser at the Dutch Council for Culture in the Netherlands, and James Murua, Kenyan based journalist, blogger, podcaster and editor.
While announcing the shortlist for 2020, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp said, “We were energised by the enormous breadth and diversity of the stories we were presented with – all of which collectively did much to challenge the notion of the African and diaspora experience, and its portrayal in fiction, as being one homogeneous whole.
“These brilliant and surprising stories are beautifully crafted, yet they are all completely different from one another. From satire and biting humour, to fiction based on non-fiction, with themes spanning political shenanigans, outcast communities, superstition, and social status, loss, and enduring love. Each of these shortlisted stories speak eloquently to the human condition, and to what it is to be an African, or person of African descent, at the start of the second decade of the 21st century.
“Together, this year’s shortlisted stories signal that African literature is in robust health, and, as demonstrated by the titles alone, never predictable.”
The shortlisted writers for the award and they are:
- Erica Sugo Anyadike (Tanzania) for How to Marry An African President published in adda: Commonwealth Stories (2019).
- Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria & UK) for What to do when your child brings home a Mami Wata published in The Shadow Booth: Vol.2(2018).
- Jowhor Ile (Nigeria) for Fisherman’s Stew, published in The Sewanee Review(2019).
- Rémy Ngamije (Rwanda & Namibia) for The Neighbourhood Watch, published in The Johannesburg Review of Books(2019).
- Irenosen Okojie (Nigeria & UK) for Grace Jones from “Nudibranch”, published by Hachette (2019)
The writers have reacted to being included in the shortlist.
Thrilled to be shortlisted for this year’s AKO Caine Prize. Thank you to @DanCoxonAuthor for including this piece in ‘Tales from the Shadowbooth’ vol 2, and, for the last few days. By the way, have you bought the anthology yet?
— Chikọdili Emelumadu (@chemelumadu) May 19, 2020
I am thrilled that “Fisherman Stew” made The AKO Caine Prize shortlist, and what great company! Thank you @CainePrize for this honour. And thank you @sewaneereview for welcoming this story and giving it a home. https://t.co/loihZ1nlPV
— Jowhor Ile (@JowhorIle) May 19, 2020
@CainePrize So thrilled to have made the shortlist. I’ve been reading Caine Prize nominees and winners for years. To be amongst such esteemed company is surreal…in the best possible way. Thank you. https://t.co/9UMCwCAJbq
— Erica Sugo (@SugoErica) May 19, 2020
— Irenosen Okojie (@IrenosenOkojie) May 19, 2020
— Rémy Ngamije (@remythequill) May 19, 2020
The AKO Caine Prize had to postpone this year’s annual award ceremony, and hopes to announce the winner of this year’s £10,000 prize in the autumn. Each shortlisted writer will also receive £500.
The shortlisted stories will be published in an anthology, and also through co-publishers in 16 African countries who receive a print-ready PDF free of charge.