On Short Stories, Poverty Porn, and Writing to Win the Caine Prize

by ptinti

Beacon

A conversation with Tope Folarin whose short story, Miracle, won the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013 and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, whose The Whispering Trees was shortlisted for the prize.

ABEOKUTA, Nigeria — For better or worse, the Caine Prize for African Writing has quickly become one of the most important institutions for African writers. Awarded annually since 2000, the Caine awards £10,000 to the winner. Perhaps more importantly, winning the Caine or even being shortlisted for it all but guarantees a writer international exposure (see: the attention of publishing houses), invitations to an endless circuit of literary festivals (see: international exposure), and confers a degree of validation that serves as an ostensible membership card into the somewhat insular African literary sphere.

The Caine is not without its shortcomings and detractors. It skews Anglophone (some would say Nigerian) and has stood accused of wielding its outsized influence irresponsibly.

As literary critic Ikhide R. Ikheloa wrote in response to the 2011…

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