Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Caine Prize

Oprah recently announced her book club pick for 2009 as being Say You're One of Them by Nigerian writer, Uwem Akpan. Although readers in the United States may not be familiar with this choice, Akpan had been recognized a few years back, being shortlisted in 2008 for the Caine Prize. The Caine Prize (Africa's Booker Prize, some say), awards an African writer, writing in English, who excels in reflection of the contemporary development of the African story-telling tradition. The African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature (Wole Soyinka, Nadine Gordimer and J M Coetzee) are all patrons of the Caine Prize, as is Chinua Achebe, winner of the Man Booker International Prize. 2009's recipient, E C Osondu (also from Nigeria), won with his short story "Waiting", which you can read here: Past winners and shortlisters include: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for Purple Hibiscus (her most recent collection of stories, The Thing Around Your Neck is also noteworthy), Laila Lalami in 2006 and Leila Aboulela's "The Hotel". As story-telling is an integral part of many African cultures, hopefully the Caine Prize will continue to uphold the tradition and allow those in more distant lands to learn as well.

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