Sibongile Fisher is the winner of the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Prize for Short Fiction for her story A Door Ajar. TJ Benson was first runners up followed by Megan Ross in third. The Prize is worth R10 000 to the winner with second and third place cash prizes of R2 000 and R1 000 respectively.
Fisher’s story, which centers around two sisters trying to escape a gruesome family custom, explores the conflict between tradition and modernity. The raw energy of the writing impressed the judging panel, who were unanimous in their decision. It is the fourth speculative short story written by a woman to scoop the R10 000 prize, which was first won in 2012 by Kenyan Okwiri Oduor, who went on to win the following year’s Caine Prize for African Writing.
In Tea TJ Benson’s love story in the time of exploitation, he uses the relationship between a Nigerian girl and a German boy, who are thrown together in the worst of circumstances, to investigate what makes us different, and whether it is more important than what makes us the same.
In Farang Megan Ross tells a story about the end of naivety, exoticism and otherness. Set in Thailand, Farang is part travelogue, part coming-of-age tale, and beautifully encapsulates the awkward space one occupies in being an outsider in another country.
The judging panel, chaired by Sindiwe Magona, called the long list of twenty-one stories “outstanding”, adding that all the stories deserve to be published. She was joined in the judging panel by HJ Golakai and Tendai Huchu.
The twenty-one long listed stories are collected in Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa, edited by Efemia Chela, Bongani Kona and Helen Moffett, and due for release in January 2017.
The organisers of Short Story Day Africa thanked the sponsors of the prize Generation Africa, the Miles Morland Foundation and BooksLive; volunteer readers across the globe who helped us sort through the entries; our publishing partners and advisors, New Internationalist and Modjaji Books; Worldreader for sponsoring the editing mentorship; and all our project sponsors.