Sunday, July 20, 2014

2014 Caine Prize for African Writing

As I entered the zoo, “The Gorrilla’s Apprentice” stared at me and told me I had “My Father’s Head.” Suddenly, a “Chicken” fluttered past me into Graaf’s pool which exhibited “Phosphorescence”. And only “The Intervention” of the zoo keeper saved the chicken from a crocodile’s jaws

If Okwiri Oduor wins, all the Kenyan fathers will happily nod their heads. If Billy Kahora wins (after being shortlisted 2.5 times), all the gorillas in Kenya will beat their chests doop doop doop. If Efemia Chela wins, all the chickens in Ghana/Zambia will flap their wings pap pap pap. If Diane Awerbuck wins, all the pools in South Africa will brighten up in phosphorescence. And if Tendai Huchu wins, all the Zimbabweans will happily follow it up on BBC without intervention


Kenya’s Okwiri Oduor has won the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for her short story entitled ‘My Father's Head’ from Feast, Famine and Potluck (Short Story Day Africa, South Africa, 2013).

The Chair of Judges, Jackie May MBE, announced Okwiri Oduor as the winner of the £10,000 prize at a dinner held this evening (Monday, 14 July) at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

‘My Father’s Head’ explores the narrator’s difficulty in dealing with the loss of her father and looks at the themes of memory, loss and loneliness. The narrator works in an old people’s home and comes into contact with a priest, giving her the courage to recall her buried memories of her father.

Jackie Kay praised the story, saying, “Okwiri Oduor is a writer we are all really excited to have discovered. ‘My Father’s Head’ is an uplifting story about mourning – Joycean in its reach. She exercises an extraordinary amount of control and yet the story is subtle, tender and moving. It is a story you want to return to the minute you finish it.”

Okwiri Oduor directed the inaugural Writivism Literary Festival in Kampala, Uganda in August 2013. Her novella, The Dream Chasers was highly commended in the Commonwealth Book Prize, 2012. She is a 2014 MacDowell Colony fellow and is currently at work on her debut novel.

Also shortlisted were Billy Kahora, Efemia Chela, Diane Aerbuck and Tendai Huchu.