Best of Luck to the Authors in the Caine Prize Shortlist 2013
By Veronica Nkwocha
I’ve enjoyed reading the Caine Prize shortlist this past month. My reviews have been from the perspective of a reader more focused on the story, than the flaws on the storytelling (I highlighted a few), although I acknowledge that the quality of the telling does mar or make the story. Most important to me was its integrity and believability, and whether the words formed into themselves, until they became a symbiotic whole, like one thriving and living organism.
When I joined the ‘blog carnival’ per Aaron Bady, I only knew of Elnathan John as I had read his blog in the past and admire his writing; ‘Bayan Layi’ drew me into the tale. I realised later that a short story ‘Runs Girl’ I had recently discovered and enjoyed immensely was written by Chinelo Okparanta; her ‘America’ was confident and intuitive. I’m better for discovering the cheeky wit that came across like an undercurrent from the telling of the character in ‘Miracle’ of Tope Folarin, the gregarious but pugnacious confidence of ‘Logan’ in ‘Foreign Aid’ per Pedi Hollist and the lyrical sweetness of Abubakar Adam Ibrahim‘s ‘The Whispering Trees’. I look forward to reading more of their work in the future and wish them all the best on the 8th of July when the prize is announced. I have my favourites but I believe they are all deserving as each one brought something different that adds to the discourse and the enjoyment of today’s literature.
The criticism of the ‘one-dimensional’ aspect of the ‘Caine Prize Story‘ is a challenge to writers to write a wide variety of stories, a lot of them already do so. It’s an even bigger challenge to publishers, prizes etc. but the solution is not to squash the stories of ‘poverty porn’ as some describe it. An increase in the number of publishers and prizes should allow the ‘African Story‘ rise beyond the pull between two extremes; each valid and each vital, begging to be told.