(Photo: Caine Prize/Twitter)
Kenyan writer Okwiri Oduor has won the 15th Caine Prize for African writing.
The writer was presented the award at Oxford’s Bodleian Library on Monday along with the £10, 000 prize money after her short story, ‘My Father’s Head’, a tale of loss and bereavement won the approval of the judges.
One of the judges 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.”
The award ceremony was part of the week-long activities as part of Africa Writes- an annual event in celebration of African literature at the British Library .
The event brought together writers and aspiring authors in a variety of events including book signings, reviews and interviews which were mostly open to the general public.
Earlier on saturday, the nominees for the Caine prize which is widely regarded as Africa’s most prestigious literary award, were interviewed during a discussion with panellists from the Africa book club on their experiences while writing the stories.
The writers Diane Awerbuck (South Africa) “Phosphorescence” in Cabin Fever, Efemia Chela (Ghana/Zambia) “Chicken” in Feast, Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe) “The Intervention” and Billy Kahora (Kenya) “The Gorilla’s Apprentice”, all spoke about their inspiration for writing the stories.
The youngest of the nominees Efemia Chela (22), whose first foray into writing drove her to write ‘Chicken’, a story about being young and free and the decisions that one makes in this feeble period spoke about getting more young Africans access to books and using contemporary tools such as social media to drive engagement with the audience.
The headline event for the week was an audience with Ghana’s foremost writer and playwright Ama Ata Aidoo on Sunday where she spoke with writer and critic Wangui Wa Goro about her expansive and hugely successful career.
Click here to read Okwiri’s winning story.