I enjoy reading the Caine Prize nominated short stories each year because they are well written, innovative and thrilling. This year I was once again enraptured by the amazing writing and attention to detail. It was difficult for me to pick a winner, but I came to my selection after much consideration.
Acclaimed writer, professor, and Chair of Judges for the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing, Zoe Wicomb, announced the five writers shortlisted for the 2015 prize on May 5. Wicomb described the shortlisted prose as, “an exciting crop of well-crafted stories,” adding that, “the shortlist has in common a rootedness in socio-economic worlds that are pervaded with affect, as well as keen awareness of the ways in which the ethical is bound up with aesthetics.”
The nominees are:
Namwali Serpell (Zambia) with “The Sack”
Elnathan John (Nigeria) “Flying”
Masande Ntshanga (South African) “Space”
F. T. Kola (South African) “A Party for the Colonel”
Segun Afolabi (Nigeria) “The Folded Leaf”
Afolabi was awarded the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2005 and Serpell and John were shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2010 and 2013, respectively.
Although F. T. Kola’s, “A Party for the Colonel” is the most traditionally written story it is my pick for this year’s Caine Prize for African Writing. Kola takes the reader on a long emotional journey and during the trip, the reader is forced to reconcile issues of physical and emotional isolation, rebellion, bondage, and racism. The dramatic ending, in particular, makes the story a refreshing and inspiring narrative worthy of the Caine Prize.
I must admit Kola clenched the victory for me because of the swift and impactful conclusion of her story. Right up until those final few scenes I had Elnathan John’s short story, “Flying” as the winner. The misery and mystery of “Flying” reads like poetry more than prose. Clever yet approachable, John is able to spin a masterful tale through the eyes of a child.
“The Sack,” “Space” and “The Folded Leaf” are all fantastic stories. Within them I witnessed the beauty and tragedy of friendship and love; I lived, once again as a wayward child; and I found my sight through blindness.
Good luck to all the nominees.
An in-depth review of “A Party for the Colonel,” by F. T. Kola will be posted soon.