The esteemed AKO Caine Prize has released its shortlist for the 2020 award. The shortlist was selected virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Celebrating 20 years of rewarding diverse writing talents across the continent – with past winners including Namwali Serpell, Tope Folarin, Lesley Nneka Arimah – the shortlist is always one to anticipate.

This year’s list features five writers from Nigeria, Namibia, Rwanda, and Tanzania. The winner is awarded £10,000 and the shortlisted writers will receive £500 each.

The shortlisted writers for the 2020 AKO Caine Prize are:

  • Jowhor Ile (Nigeria) for ‘Fisherman’s Stew’ published in The Sewanee Review (2019). Read Fisherman’s Stew
  • Remy Ngamije (Rwanda & Namibia) for ‘The Neighbourhood Watch’, published in The Johannesburg Review of Books (2019). Read The Neighbourhood Watch
  • Irenosen Okojie (Nigeria & UK) for ‘Grace Jones’ from “Nudibranch” published by Hachette (2019). Read Grace Jones

The Chair of Judges, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, in describing the list, said, “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 homogeneous 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.”

Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp is joined on the 2020 judging panel by Audrey Brown, South African broadcast journalist; Gabriel Gbadamosi, Irish-Nigerian poet and playwright; Ebissé Wakjira-Rouw, Ethiopian-born nonfiction editor, and James Murua, Kenyan based journalist.

This year’s annual award ceremony has been postponed and the winner will be announced in autumn.

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