Annual installment of the prize volume honoring short stories by African writers.
Established in 2000, the Caine Prize recognizes short stories of distinction published by African writers, which is to say, a native or citizen of an African nation or someone who has a parent of African birth or nationality. The present volume includes the five stories shortlisted for the prize, three of them by Nigerian writers this year, as well as a dozen stories by developing writers written at the Caine Prize Writers' Workshop. Several pieces speak to the experience of African immigrants in the U.S. The story “Departure,” by the Cameroonian writer Nsah Mala, is a case in point, one that opens on a note of foreboding: “It wasn’t the first night sleep had divorced her.” Nangeh has visions, one of which comes to her as she drops a bucket into a well: She is returning on a plane from America, with piles of cash and “big suitcases of American products.” Indeed, she’s won a green card lottery, but now she needs the money to get there. Alas, says the District Officer, whom she approaches for help, the only way she’ll get there is to marry his son—and never mind the fact that Nangeh is already married. It’s a story that does not end well, for all the promise of a new world. Just so, Rwandan writer Caroline Numuhire recounts the travails of a young woman who finds herself, improbably, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, caught up in just such a web. She frees herself, returning home alone: “Had it been beauty, intelligence, money, charm or any other woman, it might have been a battle I could have won. But my rival’s name was America." Dreams abound in this collection, as does some wonderful poetry, as when Ethiopian writer Heran Abate writes: “The clouds are pink and orange in a way that Mititi thinks is magical. She points up to them and starts blowing air in their direction as if to move them along faster.”
A rich collection full of work of accomplishment and great promise alike.