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Caine Prize shortlist showcases African writers

16 May 2011

The shortlist for the £10,000 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing - the twelfth 'African Booker' - has just been announced.

Libyan novelist Hisham Matar, Chair of the judges, said that "choosing a shortlist out of nearly 130 entries was not an easy task - one made more difficult and yet more enjoyable by the varied tastes of the judges - but we have arrived at a list of five stories that excel in quality and ambition. Together they represent a portrait of today's African short story: its wit and intelligence, its concerns and preoccupations...

From the first Caine Prizes at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair 2000 in Harare, (which attracted entries from 20 African countries) and the 2001 Prize at the Nairobi Book Fair in September 2001, the Prize has grown to its current size. It has been successful at establishing a pan-African prize for writers which has received international recognition.

The Prize is awarded to a short story by an African writer published in English, whether in Africa or elsewhere. This year's winner will be announced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, on Monday 11 July. This is part of a week of activities for the candidates, including book readings, book signings and press opportunities.

Selected from 126 entries from 17 African countries, the shortlist is a reflection of the Caine Prize's pan-African reach. The winner of the £10,000 prize is to be announced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, on Monday 11 July.

The 2011 shortlist comprises:

- NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) "Hitting Budapest" from the Boston Review

- Beatrice Lamwaka (Uganda) "Butterfly Dreams"

- Tim Keegan (South Africa) "What Molly Knew" from Bad Company

- Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana) "In the spirit of McPhineas Lata" from The Bed Book of Short Stories

- David Medalie (South Africa) "The Mistress's Dog" from The Mistress's Dog: Short stories 1996-2010

The stories are available to read on the awards website and the Prize is planning to expand, thanks to generous sponsorship, and has set up writers' workshops in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana to date.

The African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature - Wole Soyinka, Nadine Gordimer and J M Coetzee - are Patrons of the Caine Prize, as is Chinua Achebe, winner of the Man Booker International Prize. Ben Okri, Nigerian Winner of the Booker Prize, is a Member of the Council and chaired the first panel of Caine Prize Judges, in 2000.

The success of the Prize has shown that there is a literary culture across Africa, and much interest in African writers in the rest of the world.