|Okwiri Oduor and Novuyo Tshuma in Nairobi|
Kenyan writer Okwiri Oduor has won the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing, for her short story My Father's Head. The award was announced at a glittering event at the Bodleian Library in Oxford on Monday July 14. The Caine Prize, worth £10,000, is open to writers from anywhere in Africa for work published in English. Its focus is on the short story, reflecting the contemporary development of the African story-telling tradition.
There were four other short-listed writers: Zimbabwe's Tendai Huchu, Diane Awerbuck (S.A.), Efemia Chela (Ghana/Zambia) and Billy Kahora (Kenya). Tendai is the author of the novel The Hairdresser of Harare. His short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in numerous publications. His next novel will be The Maestro, The Magistrate and The Mathematician, which will be published by 'amaBooks in the near future.
The chair of the judges, award-winning author Jackie Kay has described the shortlist as, “Compelling, lyrical, thought-provoking and engaging. From a daughter's unusual way of grieving for her father, to a memorable swim with a grandmother, a young boy's fascination with a gorilla's conversation, a dramatic faux family meeting, to a woman who is forced to sell her eggs, the subjects are as diverse as they are entertaining.”
Jackie Kay described My Father's Head as “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 story begins with the narrator's attempts to remember what her father’s face looked like as she struggles to cope with his loss, and follows her as she finds the courage to remember.
Every year a Caine Prize anthology is published, which includes the shortlisted stories as well as those written by participants at the annual Caine Prize workshop. This year’s collection, The Gonjon Pin, will be released in Zimbabwe by 'amaBooks in the next two weeks and will be introduced at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in Harare at the end of this month. The collection is also published by publishers in the UK, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Ghana. The book features seven Zimbabwean writers, including Tendai Huchu. The other six are: Lawrence Hoba, Violet Masilo, Isabella Matambanadzo, Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende, Philani A. Nyoni and Bryony Rheam.