Kenya’s Okwiri Oduor has won the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story entitled ‘My Father’s Head’. She was announced the winner at a dinner held last night at at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
Okwiri Oduor is a published author and her novella, The Dream Chasers, was highly commended in the Commonwealth Book Prize, 2012. She is a 2014 MacDowell Colony fellow and is currently working on her debut novel. Okwiri becomes the third Kenyan to win the Caine Prize after Binyavanga Wainaina in 2002 and Yvonne Adhiambo in 2003.
‘My Father’s Head’ explores the narrator’s difficulty in dealing with the loss of her father and looks at the themes of memory, loss and loneliness. The narrator works in an old people’s home and comes into contact with a priest, giving her the courage to recall her buried memories of her father. The short story had previously won in the Feast, Famine and Potluck short story competition that was oranized by Short Story Day Africa.
The chair of judges, Jackie Kay had this to say about Okwiri’s story “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.”
Jackie Kay was joined in the judging panel by novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo, Zimbabwean journalist Percy Zvomuya, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Georgetown Nicole Rizzuto and the winner of the Caine Prize in 2001 Helon Habila.
Okwiri will get £10,000 and will also get a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. She will also be invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2014, the Storymoja Hay Festival in Nairobi and the Ake Festival in Nigeria. To mark the fifteenth anniversary of the Prize, each shortlisted writer will also receive £500.
The other shortlisted writers in this years Caine Prize were:
Also shortlisted were:
- Diane Awerbuck (South Africa) “Phosphorescence” in Cabin Fever (Umuzi, Cape Town. 2011)
- Efemia Chela (Ghana/Zambia) “Chicken” in Feast, Famine and Potluck (Short Story Day Africa, South Africa. 2013)
- Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe) “The Intervention” in Open Road Review, issue 7, New Delhi. 2013
Read The Intervention
- Billy Kahora (Kenya) “The Gorilla’s Apprentice” in Granta (London. 2010)
Read The Gorilla’s Apprentice
Previous winners of the Caine Prize are:
- Sudan’s Leila Aboulela (2000)
- Nigerian Helon Habila (2001)
- Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina (2002)
- Kenyan Yvonne Owuor (2003)
- Zimbabwean Brian Chikwava (2004)
- Nigerian Segun Afolabi (2005)
- South African Mary Watson (2006)
- Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007)
- South African Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008)
- Nigerian EC Osondu (2009)
- Sierra Leonean Olufemi Terry (2010)
- Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo (2011)
- Nigerian Tope Folarin (2013)