oday is the 19th of May, and at long last, the wait is finally over for the 2020 AKO Caine Prize shortlist announcement. 2020 – the first year of the third decade of the Caine Prize – is a year of firsts, with Tanzania, Rwanda and Namibia being represented for the first time on the shortlist. Also, for the first time in Caine Prize history, we have writers on the shortlist who are officially representing non-African countries. To be clear, this is not the first time that people with non-African citizenships have been shortlisted for the prize, but it is the first time that the shortlistees in question have been announced as representatives of non-African countries. Is this a positive first for African writing? It’s debatable, but I’ll leave that to your judgement. For now, and without further ado, these are the shortlisted writers for the 2020 AKO Caine Prize for African writing – with writers from Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and the United Kingdom:
Director of The Africa Centre, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, who is the chair of this year’s panel of judges is quoted to have said that : “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 homogenous 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.”
“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 homogenous whole.” Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE
Alongisde Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp, the 2020 prize will be judged by South African broadcast journalist – Audrey Brown, Irish-Nigerian poet and playwright – Gabriel Gbadamosi, Ethiopian-born nonfiction editor and policy adviser at the Dutch Council for Culture in the Netherlands – Ebissé Wakjira-Rouw, and Kenyan based journalist, blogger, podcaster and editor – James Murua.
Due to the COVID19 pandemic, the AKO Caine Prize has had to postpone this year’s award ceremony, but hopes to announce this year’s winner in the autumn. The winner of the prize will receive a £10,000 prize while each shortlisted writer will receive £500.
The shortlisted stories will be published in an anthology by the following publishers: Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), Kwani? (Kenya), Lantern Books (Nigeria), Huza Press (Rwanda), Jacana Media (South Africa), Mkuki na Nyota (Tanzania), Redsea Cultural Foundation (Somaliland, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan and UAE), FEMRITE (Uganda), New Internationalist (UK), Interlink Publishing (USA), Gadsden Publishers (Zambia), and ‘amaBooks (Zimbabwe). More information will be made available about this in due time.