There aren’t any Nigerian writers on the 2014 shortlist for The Caine Prize for African Writers, but not to worry, there are five exceptional shortlistees. I will review each shortlist entry for my blog, An Educator’s Expedition, but I wanted to take a few moments to address the absence of Nigerians on the shortlist.
Rotimi Babatunde and Tope Folarin the 2012 and 2013 winners, respectively, are both sons of Nigeria. I’m sure many magnificent Nigerian writers submitted worthy storiesbut not one of those pieces was placed on the shortlist. How could that be?
I’ve come up with two potential answers to why there aren’t any Nigerians on the shortlist. Maybe the Caine Prize judges were worried about the Prize appearing as if it favored Nigerian writers and decided to pause for a year and only place non-Nigerian writers on the shortlist to ensure continued interestfrom other African writers. Or, possibly the Nigerian writers who entered pieces didn’t rise to the level of “Caine Prize winner” material and the cards simply didn’t fall in their favor. Both reasons could potentially be fact—probably the latter rather than the former since the committee is professional. But I think the former argument could be true because the committee is possibly more political than people assume. What do you think?
Tope Folarin’s debut novel, The Proximity of Distance, is soon to hit the market and we will again witness the brilliant talent of a son of Nigeria. So don’t fear, Nigerian writers are on deck and will continue to stock our libraries, hearts and souls with thought provoking prose.Nigerian Prose 2014: Every Day Is For The Thief: Fiction, by Teju Cole (US release 2014) All Our Names, by Dinaw Mengestu Boy, Snow, Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi