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And the Caine Prize 2019 Winner is Lesley Nneka Arimah for her short story ‘Skinned’!

The winner was announced at a ceremony in London on Monday, the 8th of July, 2019 and she goes home with a prize of ten thousand pounds. Her story was selected from a shortlist of five stories which includes authors from Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Kenya.

caine prize 2019 winner
Caine Prize 2019 winner: Lesley Nneka Arimah

The other four stories are;

  1. Sew My Mouth by Cherie Kandie
  2. It Takes A Village Some Say by Ngwah-Mbo Nana Nkweti
  3. All Our Lives by Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor
  4. The Wall by Meron Hadero

Other shortlisted authors go home with five hundred pounds each. To mark the twentieth anniversary of the Caine Prize, a special publication by the New Internationalist would have all five stories published.

Skinned was first published in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern (Issue 53). Lesley has been shortlisted twice for the Caine Prize; first in 2016 for her story What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky and in 2017 for Who will Greet You At Home.

The judges on the panel for this year’s prize were;

  1. Peter Kimani, award winning Kenyan author and journalist
  2. Sefi Atta, prize winning Nigerian author and playwright
  3. Margie Orford, South African author of crime fiction
  4. Scott Taylor, professor and director of African studies at Georgetown University
  5. Olufemi Terry, 2010 Caine Prize winner

The Chair of the Judges, Dr. Peter Kimani had this to say about the winning story;

“The winner of this year’s Caine Prize for African Writing is a unique retake of women’s struggle for inclusion in a society regulated by rituals. Lesley Nneka Arimah’s Skinned defamiliarises the familiar to tople social hierarchies, challenge traditions and envision new possibilities for women of the world. Using a sprightly diction, she invents a dystopian universe inhabited by unforgettable characters where friendship is tested, innocence is lost, and readers gain a new understanding of life.”

Kimani also had this to say about the writers generally at the announcement of the shortlist;

“Without exception, past Caine Prize winners have been revolutionary and evolutionary— breaking fresh ground, while pushing the African story from the margins to the mainstream of world literature. The five writers on this year’s shortlist carry on with that tradition, not just in their inventiveness in imagining the world, but also in tackling the ordinary in an extraordinary manner, in a wide-range of issues: gender and generation; home and exile; sexuality and religion; love and hate; happiness and heartbreak.”

-Culled from the Caine Prize website

This statement is so apt as all stories had a variety of themes that tell the African story in the most creative way possible. Skinned was the most creative and my favourite to win and I predicted right. Check out my review of the stories and predictions in this post.

Congratulations to Lesley Nneka Arimah, the Caine Prize 2019  winner!!!

Pictures from Twitter @CainePrize

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