A story published by Manchester-based indie Comma Press is featured on the Caine Prize for African Writing shortlist. The publisher’s nominated entry, ‘The Story of the Girl whose Birds Flew Away’ by Sudanese writer Bushra al-Fadil, is the second shortlisted story in the award’s 18-year history to have been translated from Arabic (full shortlist below).
It is the first time a story published by Comma Press has been nominated and one of two British publishers to be up for the the £10,000 award. The second is Nigerian author Chikodili Emelumadu’s ‘Bush Baby’, published by Fox Spirit Books. All the other nominations on the five-strong shortlist were published in the US.
The stories feature a “theme of transition” and were all described as “unrelentingly haunting” by the chair of judges Nii Ayikwei Parkes. The other contenders are Nigerian writers Lesley Nneka Arimah for her story in The New Yorker, ‘Who Will Greet You At Home’ and ‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’ by Arinze Ifeakandu (A Public Space Literary Projects Inc.) as well as ‘The Virus’ by South African author Magogodi oaMphela Makhene which was published in the Harvard Review.
The shortlist was announced by Parkes. The writer and editor said: “There seemed to be a theme of transition in many of the stories... Although they range in tone from the satirical to the surreal, all five stories on this year's shortlist are unrelentingly haunting.”
The other judges include the 2007 Caine Prize winner, Monica Arac de Nyeko, author and chair of the English Department at Georgetown University, Professor Ricardo Ortiz, Libyan author and human rights campaigner Ghazi Gheblawi and African literary scholar Dr Ranka Primorac from the University of Southampton.
The winner of the £10,000 prize will be announced at an award ceremony at Senate House Library, London, in partnership with SOAS, on 3rd July. Each shortlisted writer will also receive £500.
Each of these stories will be published in New Internationalist’s 2017 Caine Prize anthology, The Goddess of Mwtara and Other Stories, in June and through co-publishers in 16 African countries.
The shortlist includes:
‘Who Will Greet You At Home’ by Lesley Nneka Arimah published in The New Yorker
‘Bush Baby’ by Chikodili Emelumadu published in African Monsters, edited by Margarét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas (Fox Spirit Books, UK)
‘The Story of the Girl whose Birds Flew Away’, translated by Max Shmookler, published in The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction eds. Raph Cormack & Max Shmookler (Comma Press, UK. 2016)
‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’ by Arinze Ifeakandu published in A Public Space 24 (A Public Space Literary Projects Inc., USA. 2016)
‘The Virus’ by Magogodi oaMphela Makhene published in The Harvard Review 49 (Houghton Library Harvard University)
Lidudumalingani won the 2016 prize for his short story ‘Memories We Lost’.
The shortlisted entries can be read here caineprize.com/2017-shortlist/.