Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Caine Prize According to Readers, Writers, Critics, and Judges.

This post is an attempt to place all the links to  opinion pieces about the Caine prize on one page. 'Sound bites' from the essays are placed in italics after each title. Click on the titles to go to the full articles.

My Caine Prize Year by Olufemi Terry. In the immediate aftermath of winning, I was asked to give reasons for why I write, to define myself, to offer opinions on African writing. This had never happened before. .

The Caine Prize and Unintended Consequences by Ikhide Ikheloa.   Helped with lots of dollars, the West is now busily forcing our stories into a particularly obnoxious trajectory. The allure of fame is overwhelming and our writers are trying way too hard to be “African” writers.

Ikhide's complaint [The Caine Prize and Unintended Consequences] by Emmanuel Iduma   If we choose to write a story about Darfur, does it mean we have told a story that should not be told because it affirms a skewed Western thought or affords a validation of Western-stereotypic consciousness? 

The Trouble with the Caine Prize by Saratu Abiola. Folks call it the "African Booker Prize", and with the mantle of premier African literary award comes the weight that The Booker, The Pushcart, The Pen or any other literary award doesn't have - the burden of representation, of validation, of choosing by dint of one's position the face of and state of African literary scene.

Some Writing About What We Wrote About When We Wrote About The Caine Prize by Matthew Cheney. Further, once a story becomes a Caine Prize Nominee, it is no longer just any story — it has to bear the burden of being singled out as a Great African Story. That's a big burden, unfair to the story, the writer, and the Prize, but inevitable...

Bernadine Evaristo, the Chair of Judges for the 2012 prize. I ask myself - to what extent does published African fiction pander to received notions about the continent, and at what cost? How might this contrac the imagination and reduce expectations for readers and writers alike.

The Africa I recognise and Love by Augustus Casely-HayfordFor Africans, fighting for the right to tell their stories is something that has been hard won – whether in the form of the establishment of ancient libraries, or the challenging of colonial regimes or repressive governments, words have been our allies.

The Caine Prize, the Tragic Continent, and the Politics of the Happy African Story by Carmen McCain. Such literary prescription begins to feel like Dora Akunyili’s erstwhile rebranding campaign—a luxury of those who do not want to be embarrassed while abroad, which does little to solve the problems on the ground.

How to Write a Caine Prize Story (Whatever That Is) Part 1 and 2  by Nta Bassey.   This is merely concerned with getting you on the shortlist , and for that you must be grateful. For if Sir Michael Caine never did have a prize, your name would still be deeply ensconced in Africa’s jungles known only by your town crier. 

The Caine Prize and Contemporary African Writing by Lizzy Attree It is interesting that winning stories from 2009 to 2011 feature child narrators located, in Osondu's case, in a refugee camp, while Terry's "Stickfighting Days" is set in a Kenyan slum and Bulawayo's "Hitting Budapest" is set in and around an informal settlement. It is a shame if this series of stories selected to represent the Caine Prize, which in most other ways are not that similar, suggest that there are thematic concerns for which the judges look. 

The Caine Prize and the Impossibility of “New” African Writing by Samantha PintoBut while that veneer of benevolent racism persists and should be interrogated, a closer look at some of the winning stories’ (not to mention the shortlisted ones) form along with their content tells a more complicated story.  

I intend to keep updating this page as the conversation around the prize unfolds. I have left out pieces that focus on a particular year (for instance, Pa Ikhide's The 2011 Caine Prize: How Not to Write About Africa). I will put up another post about those ones soon. Do drop a comment to let me know if there is any link that I've left out, I will gladly update the post.

For reviews of the shortlisted stories check out Blogging the Caine I have found this blogathon to be interesting and thought provoking. 

What She Thinks: The winner of this year's prize will be announced on Monday 8 July, who are you rooting for?

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