Kenyan writer Makena Onjerika on Caine Prize 2018 shortlist

Friday May 18 2018

A book. Kenya’s Makena Onjerika has been nominated for the Caine Prize for African Writing. Onjerika was nominated for her short story, "Fanta Blackcurrant", which was published in "Wasafiri" in 2017.

Kenya’s Makena Onjerika has been nominated for the Caine Prize for African Writing. Onjerika was nominated for her short story, Fanta Blackcurrant, which was published in Wasafiri in 2017.

Onjerika is among the five African writers nominated for the Caine Prize 2018. She is a graduate of the MFA Creative Writing programme at New York University, and has been published in Urban Confusions and Wasafiri. She lives in Nairobi and is currently working on a fantasy novel.

Dinaw Mengestu, the chairman of the judges, unveiled the names.

“The best short stories have a subtle, almost magical quality to them. They can contain through the rigour of their imagination and the care of their prose more than just a glimpse into the complicated emotional, political, and social fabric of their characters’ lives,” said Dinaw, a former Lannan Foundation Chair in Poetics at Georgetown University.

“The politics and aesthetics of gender, sexuality, corruption and silence were a constant presence throughout many of the stories submitted, particularly those on our shortlist.”



The Caine Prize for African Writing is the most coveted literature award in Africa. It is awarded to the best short story published by an African writer every year.

This year’s shortlist has five writers, four of them women.

Wole Talabi (Nigeria) is the only man among the nominees. He was nominated for Wednesday’s Story, a short story that was published in Lightspeed Magazine in 2016. Wole is a member of the African Speculative Fiction Society (ASFS).

The other nominees on the 2018 list are Nonyelum Ekwempu (Nigeria) for American Dream, published in Red Rock Review (2016) and republished in The Anthem, Stacy Hardy (South Africa) for Involution published in Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa, and Olufunke Ogundimu (Nigeria) for The Armed Letter Writers published in The African Literary Hustle in 2017.

Last year, the prize was awarded to Sudanese poet Bushra al-Fadil for The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away.

This is the second year the prize has shortlisted three Nigerians.

Women writers have dominated the list for the 2018 prize. This echoes the 2018 Brunel Prize shortlist, which nominated five African women poets.

The final winner will be announced at an award ceremony and dinner at Senate House Library, London, to be attended by all the shortlisted.

Previous winners of the prize are Sudan’s Leila Aboulela (2000); Nigeria’s Helon Habila (2001); Kenya’s Binyavanga Wainaina (2002); Kenya’s Yvonne Owuor (2003); Zimbabwe’s Brian Chikwava (2004); Nigeria’s Segun Afolabi (2005); South Africa’s Mary Watson (2006); Uganda’s Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007); South Africa’s Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008); Nigeria’s EC Osondu (2009) and Sierra Leone’s Olufemi Terry (2010).

Others are Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo (2011); Nigeria’s Rotimi Babatunde (2012); Nigeria’s Tope Folarin (2013); Kenya’s Okwiri Oduor (2014); Zambia’s Namwali Serpell (2015); South Africa’s Lidudumalingani (2016); and Sudan’s Bushra al-Fadil (2017).