Nigeria Dominates the 14th Caine Prize Shortlist - 2013

This year's Caine Prize for African Writing shortilst, released on May 15, was dominated by Nigerians. This emphaises Nigeria's long-held and enviable position as the powerhouse of quality and prodigious Literature on the continent; perhaps only South Africa can 'compete'. Four of the five stories that made up this year's shortlist were by Nigerians. The fifth story is by a Sierra Leonean. Nigeria has produced such great writers as the Nobel Laureate, Akinwande Oluwole (Wole) Soyinka; the Man Booker International Prize Winner, Chinua Achebe; Elechi Amadi; John Pepper Clark; Ola Rotimi; and others. One can also mention many of the new generation of writers such as Chuma Nwokolo; the Booker Prize Winner, Ben Okri; the Orange Prize Winner, Chimamanda Adichie; and others. We can talk of Nigerian writers forever. According to the Chair of Judges, Gus Casely-Hayford,
The Shortlist was selected from 96 entries from 16 African countries. They are all outstanding African stories that were drawn from an extraordinary body of high quality submissions.
Could Nigeria's dominance with quality literature have been due to the vibrant publishing industry in the country? Yet, it is also clear from the shortlist (below) that only one of the stories was published in Nigeria. One can therefore say that writing is embedded in the DNA of the Nigerian. The average Nigerian command over the English language and their diction is unique.

Another unique phenomenon, keeping up with the last year's, is the subject. Prior to 2012, the Caine Prize became notorious for award certain peculiar stories. Stories of extreme hunger, poverty, unconditional scatology, which represents nothing but base, and other stories in similar vein. Last year the Chair of Judges, Bernadine Evaristo, sought to go 'beyond the more stereotypical narrative.' The 2013 CoJ, Gus Casely-Hayford, might have kept faith with going beyond the stereotypical. In describing the 2013 shortlist, he says
The five contrasting titles interrogate aspects of things that we might feel we know of Africa - violence, religion, corruption, family, community - but these are subjects that are deconstructed and beautifully remade. These are challenging, arresting, provocative stories of a continent and its descendants captured at a time of burgeoning change.
I hope they provide an alternative to the common narrative; I hope they do not revert to the previous and that even when they discuss such issues they would be more penetrative, investigative, or psychological treatment than mere arrangement of images.

This year's shortlisted stories are:
  • Elnathan John (Nigeria) Bayan Layi from Per Contra Issue 25 (USA, 2012)
  • Tope Folarin (Nigeria) Miracle from Transition, Issue 109 (Bloomington, 2012)
  • Pede Hollist (Sierra Leone) Foreign Aid from Journal of Progressive Human Services, Vol. 23.3 (Philadelphia, 2012)
  • Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Nigeria) The Whispering trees from The Whispering Trees, published by Parresia Publishers (Lagos, 2012)
  • Chinelo Okparanta (Nigeria) America from Granta, Issue 118 (London, 2012)
The Winner of this £10,000 prize will be announced on July 8, 2013 at Bodleian Library, Oxford. Read more here.


  1. Interesting! They should keep it up.

    1. I hope so. But from what I'm hearing, I'm likely to be disappointed


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