The Caine Prize for African Writing, an esteemed annual award honouring outstanding African writers, is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2023 edition.
The five shortlisted stories were carefully selected from a pool of 297 entries originating from 28 African countries.
The shortlisted writers for the 2023 Caine Prize for African Writing are:
- Yejide Kilanko (Nigeria) for ‘This Tangible Thing’, HarperVia (2023)
- Tlotlo Tsamaase (Botswana) for ‘Peeling Time (Deluxe Edition)’, TorDotCom (2022)
- Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo (Senegal) for ‘A Soul of Small Places’, TorDotCom (2022)
- Ekemini Pius (Nigeria) for ‘Daughters, By Our Hands’, Isele Magazine (2022)
- Yvonne Kusiima (Uganda) for ‘Weaving’, Isele Magazine (2022)
This year’s submissions encompassed a diverse range of talent from 28 different countries, including Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Fareda Banda, Chair of Judges, and a professor of Law at SOAS, University of London, expressed her thoughts on the shortlist: “Together we have read, discussed and wrestled an eligible submission list of 230 stories down to the final five. This has not been an easy task. The entries showed the depth and scope of writing on the continent and beyond.
“The stories spanned generations, genres and themes. They challenged, stimulated, shocked, surprised and delighted us in equal measure. The five shortlisted embrace speculative fiction and artivism (using art as a form of activism). Stories of gender-based violence and reproductive autonomy highlight the power of engaging and innovative/original writing. Love is embodied in stories of grandmothers passing on inter-generational wisdom. The sense of alienation engendered by teenage diasporic liminality sits alongside comedic outrage about the perceived status downgrade in moving from city to village. Each story will have its fans and advocates-we loved them all.”
Banda further noted the remarkable fact that four out of the six shortlisted finalists reside in Africa, with two from the diaspora. This year’s shortlist also boasts a joint submission and an all-women judging panel, marking significant milestones in the history of the Caine Prize.
Ukamaka Olisakwe, Editor of Isele Magazine, expressed her excitement: “We are thrilled that Ekemini Pius and Yvonne Kusiima’s short stories have been shortlisted for this year’s Caine Prize. Our mission at Isele Magazine has always been to work with writers who hold a mirror to our society and who challenge conventional expectations about ways of being, and so it is such a joy that for the first time ever, two of our brilliant writers are included in this prestigious list.”
Zelda Knight, Co-Editor at Africa Risen (TorDotCom), commented on the selected works: “Tlotlo Tsamaase’s ‘Peeling Time’ and ‘A Soul of Small Places’ by Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo are evocative pieces of feminist horror. Their incorporation of speculative elements to depict the everyday struggles and atrocities faced by women captured our attention and refused to let go. We are honoured to have these exceptional authors nominated for the prize.”
Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Editor of RELATIONS: An Anthology of African and Diaspora Voices, expressed her enthusiasm: “We are thrilled Yejide Kilanko’s ‘This Tangible Thing’ has been recognized by The Caine Prize jury! The deft way she handles the uncommon bond at the heart of her story highlights the power relationships have to shape us and to heal us. Such connections are exactly what the entire collection of stories, essays, and poems that make up RELATIONS is all about.”
The Caine Prize for African Writing also convened an impressive panel of Judges for 2023. Chair of Judges, Fareda Banda is joined by Edwige-Renée Dro, a writer, literary translator, and literary activist; Kadija George Sesay, editor and founder of Mboka Festival; Jendella Benson, author and Head of Editorial at Black Ballad; and Warsan Shire, a multi-award winning writer and poet who recently collaborated with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter on her Peabody Award-winning visual album Lemonade and the Disney film Black Is King.
Fareda Banda says, “Chairing the 2023 Caine Prize has been one of the highlights of my life. My accomplished, generous, kind, and hardworking fellow judges have been a joy to work with. This is the first all-women selection committee in the history of the prize.”
Commenting on the 2023 panel, Sarah Ozo-Irabor, Director of the Caine Prize, says: “We are thrilled to have such an illustrious and highly accomplished panel of judges who will no doubt continue The Caine Prize’s legacy of expanding the wealth of contemporary African writings.”
Ellah Wakatama OBE, Chair of The Caine Prize Board of Trustees, expressed her thoughts on the judges and shortlist: “This year we have, for the first time, an all-female judging panel for The Caine Prize for African Writing, which for me, is a particular delight. We set out to put together a group of formidable talent and experience across a range of art forms and disciplines. The judges have presented a shortlist that shows range and ambition, across genres and with diverse approaches to storytelling – the quality and innovation that is a hallmark of our annual shortlist.”
The Caine Prize for African Writing celebrates the richness and diversity of African literature and recognizes outstanding achievements in African storytelling. The winner of the 2023 Caine Prize will be announced at a ceremony held on Monday, 2nd October 2023 in London, UK.
- Fareda Banda is Zimbabwean law professor based at SOAS, University of London. She writes on women’s rights, family law and more recently law and literature. Amazon.co.uk : fareda banda Her publications include Women, Law and Human Rights Women, Law and Human Rights: An African Perspective: Fareda Banda: Hart Publishing (bloomsbury.com), a co-edited book, with Lisa Fishbayn Joffe on Women’s Rights and Religious Law Women’s Rights and Religious Law: Domestic and International Perspecti (routledge.com). Her most recent book, African Migration, Human Rights and Literature. African Migration, Human Rights and Literature: : Fareda Banda: Hart Publishing (bloomsbury.com) explores how art, and specifically literature, can be used as a form of art activism.
- Edwige-Renée Dro is a writer, literary translator, and literary activist from Côte d’Ivoire. Her short stories and articles have been published in anthologies such as New Daughters of Africa, Africa39, the Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies, This is Africa, etc. As a literary translator, she has mentored emerging literary translators as part of the Bakwa Literary Translation workshop that birthed the anthology: Your feet will lead you where your heart is / Le crepuscule des âmes soeurs. She is also the translator of the anthology Les oiseaux d’eau sur la rive du lac / Water birds on the lakeshore (English and French), the children’s book: Rêve d’oiseau by Shenaz Patel (A Dream of Birds – English), the short story: Petit Pa by Hemley Boum (Little Pa – English), etc. In 2020, she founded 1949: the library of women’s writings from Africa and the black world in Abidjan
- Kadija George Sesay is a Sierra Leonean/British scholar and literary activist. She is the Publications Manager for Inscribe/Peepal Tree Press, where she commissions anthologies, such as Glimpse, a Black British speculative fiction anthology. She is the editor of several other anthologies and the founder/publisher of SABLE LitMag. She has published poetry, short stories and essays, the latest is in New Daughters of Africa. Her poetry collection is Irki; her forthcoming collection, The Modern Pan-Africanist’s Journey. She is co-founder of Mboka Festival of Arts Culture and Sport in The Gambia and founder of the ‘AfriPoeTree’ app. She is on the board of African Studies Association (UK) and chair of Yaram Arts. She has judged several writing competitions and is the resident judge for the SI Leeds Literary Prize. She has received awards and fellowships for her work in the creative arts including an honorary doctorate from Goldsmiths University.
- Jendella Benson is a British-Nigerian author and editor. Her debut novel Hope & Glory was published in April 2022 and her short story Kindle was published in The Book of Birmingham collection. She is Head of Editorial at Black Ballad – the award-winning digital magazine and membership community for black women in Britain and beyond – and has written for The Sunday Times STYLE, The Independent and The Telegraph. Originally from Birmingham, she is now based in London and is working on her second novel.
- Warsan Shire is a Somali British writer and poet born in Nairobi and raised in London. She has written two chapbooks, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth and Her Blue Body. She was awarded the inaugural Brunel International African Poetry Prize and served as the first Young Poet Laureate of London. She is the youngest member of the Royal Society of Literature and is included in the Penguin Modern Poets series. Shire wrote the poetry for the Peabody Award–winning visual album Lemonade and the Disney film Black Is King in collaboration with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. She also wrote the short film Brave Girl Rising, highlighting the voices and faces of Somali girls in Africa’s largest refugee camp. Warsan Shire lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head is her full-length debut poetry collection.
Shortlisted Writers’ Biographies
- Yejide Kilanko was born in Ibadan, Nigeria. She writes poetry and fiction. Kilanko’s debut novel, Daughters Who Walk This Path, a Canadian national bestseller, was longlisted for the 2016 Nigeria Prize for Literature. Her short fiction is included in the anthology, New Orleans Review 2017: The African Literary Hustle. Kilanko’s latest novel, A Good Name, was published in 2021. Kilanko lives in Ontario, Canada where she practices as a social worker.
- Tlotlo Tsamaase is a Motswana author (xe/xem/xer or she/her pronouns). Tlotlo’s debut adult novel, Womb City, comes out in January 2024 from Erewhon Books. Xer novella, The Silence of the Wilting Skin, is a 2021 Lambda Literary Award finalist and was shortlisted for a 2021 Nommo Award. Tlotlo has received support from the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, and xer story “Behind Our Irises” is the joint winner of the Nommo Award for Best Short Story (2021). Tlotlo’s short fiction has appeared in News Suns 2, Africa Risen, The Best of World SF Volume 1, Clarkesworld, Terraform, and Africanfuturism Anthology, and is forthcoming in Chiral Mad 5. Xe obtained a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Botswana and won an award for design architecture. Tsamaase is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Chapman University.
- Mame Bougouma Diene is a Franco –Senegalese American humanitarian based in Pretoria, the francophone spokesperson for the African Speculative Fiction Society (http://www.africansfs.com/), the French language editor for Omenana Magazine, and a regular columnist at Strange Horizons. You can find his fiction and nonfiction work in Omenana, Galaxies SF, Edilivres, Fiyah! Truancy Magazine, EscapePod, Mythaxis, Apex Magazine and TorDotCom; and in anthologies such as AfroSFv2 & V3 (Storytime), Myriad Lands (Guardbridge Books), You Left Your Biscuit Behind (Fox Spirit Books), This Book Ain’t Nuttin to Fuck Wit (Clash Media), Africanfuturism (Brittle Paper), Dominion (Aurelia Leo), Meteotopia (Future Fiction/Co-Futures in English and Italian), Bridging Worlds (Jembefola Press) and Africa Risen (TorDotCom). His novelette The Satellite Charmer is translated in Italian by Moscabianca Edizioni, his novelette Ogotemmeli’s Song is translated in Bangla (Joydhak Prakashan). He was nominated for several Nommo Awards, and his debut collection “Dark Moons Rising on a Starless Night” (Clash Books) was nominated for the 2019 Splatterpunk Award.
- Woppa Diallo is a lawyer with a specialisation in human rights, humanitarian action and peace promotion. She is a feminist activist committed to social change and the realisation of women’s rights. Woppa founded Association pour le Maintien des Filles à l’Ecole (AMFE) at fifteen in Matam, Senegal, to ensure fair access to education for girls, eradicate gender-based stereotypes, promote sexual & reproductive health, and the continued socialisation of girls-victims of gender-based violence.
- Ekemini Pius is a Nigerian writer and editor who lives in Calabar, Nigeria. His works have been published in the Kendeka Prize for African Literature anthology, the K & L Prize anthology, Afro Literary Magazine, and Isele Magazine. His story, ‘Time and Bodies’ was shortlisted for the 2021 Kendeka Prize for African Literature. He was also shortlisted for the 2022 Awele Creative Trust Short Story Prize. He is an alumnus of the 2019 Wawa Literary Fellowship and was a finalist for the 2022 Guest Artist Space Fellowship. He is currently working on his debut novel.
- Yvonne Kusiima is a writer from Kampala, Uganda with a degree in Social Sciences. She is interested in the complexities of human societies and aims to shake things up to make this world a better place. She believes stories have the power to change the status quo, one word at a time. Her work has been published in African Writer Magazine, Kalahari Review, Brittle Paper, The Hektoen International Journal of Medical Humanities and Isele. Her work has been shortlisted for the Isele short story prize (2023).
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