Kenyan writer Okwiri Oduor has won the 15th edition of the Caine Prize for African Writing. Oduor's victory was announced yesterday at a dinner at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England held to celebrate the shortlisted candidates, including Efemia Chela from Ghana and Zambia (who was nominated for her story "Chicken"), Diane Awerbuck from South Africa ("Phosphorescence"), Tendai Huchu from Zimbabwe ("The Intervention"), and Billy Kahora from Kenya ("The Gorilla’s Apprentice").
Oduor's story, which tells of a woman struggling to remember the face of her deceased father while surrounded by the elderly, grapples with issues of loss, memory and loneliness. Jackie Kay, the Chair of Judges for the Caine Prize, called Oduor's writing "Joycean in its reach...subtle, tender and moving". This is Oduor's second big literature prize recognition: in 2012 her novella The Dream Chasers was highly commended by the Commonwealth Book Prize. In addition to the £500 she received for being shortlisted for the Caine Prize, Oduor was awarded £10,000 for her win, as well as a month-long residency at Georgetown University in Washington DC. She will be invited to appear at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, the Storymoja Hay Festival in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Ake Festival in Abeokuta, Nigeria.
The Caine Prize is named after the late Sir Michael Caine, former chairman of the Booker Prize management committee. This year's panel of judges included writer Gillian Slovo, Zimbabwean journalist Percy Zvomuya, professor Dr Nicole Rizzuto, and Nigerian writer and 2001 Caine Prize winner Helon Habila. Last year's prize was won by Nigerian-American Tope Folarin for his story "Miracle".
Congratulations to Oduor! Read her story and the other shortlisted stories here.