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Rotimi Babatunde wins 13th Caine Prize for African Writing

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Rotimi Babatunde

Nigeria’s Rotimi Babatunde has won the 2012 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for his short story entitled ‘Bombay’s Republic’ from ‘Mirabilia Review’ Vol. 3.9 (Lagos, 2011). http://mirabilia.webs.com/

The Chair of Judges, Bernardine Evaristo MBE, announced Rotimi Babatunde as the winner of the £10,000 prize at a dinner held this evening (Monday, 2 July) at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Bernardine Evaristo said: “Bombay’s Republic vividly describes the story of a Nigerian soldier fighting in the Burma campaign of World War Two. It is ambitious, darkly humorous and in soaring, scorching prose exposes the exploitative nature of the colonial project and the psychology of Independence.”

Rotimi Babatunde’s fiction and poems have been published in Africa, Europe and America in journals which include Die Aussenseite des Elementes and Fiction on the Web and in anthologies including Little Drops and A Volcano of Voices. He is a winner of the Meridian Tragic Love Story Competition organised by the BBC World Service and his plays have been staged and presented by institutions which include the Halcyon Theatre, Chicago and the Institute for Contemporary Arts. He is currently taking part in a collaboratively produced piece at the Royal Court and the Young Vic as part of World Stages for a World City. Rotimi lives in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Also shortlisted were:

  • Billy Kahora (Kenya) ‘Urban Zoning’ from ‘McSweeney’s’ Vol. 37  (San Francisco, 2011)www.mcsweeneys.net
  • Stanley Kenani (Malawi) ‘Love on Trial’ from ‘For Honour and Other Stories’ published by eKhaya/Random House Struik (Cape Town, 2011) www.randomstruik.co.za
  • Melissa Tandiwe Myambo (Zimbabwe) ‘La Salle de Départ’ from ‘Prick of the Spindle’ Vol. 4.2 (New Orleans, June, 2010) www.prickofthespindle.com
  • Constance Myburgh (South Africa) ‘Hunter Emmanuel’ from ‘Jungle Jim’ Issue 6, (Cape Town, 2011) www.junglejim.org

The panel of judges is chaired by Bernardine Evaristo, the award-winning author of six books of fiction and verse fiction. Her new novel, Mr Loverman, will be published by Penguin 2013. She is a literary critic, teaches creative writing at Brunel University and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts. Alongside Bernardine on the panel of judges this year are cultural journalist Maya Jaggi, Zimbabwean poet, songwriter and writer Chirikure Chirikure, Associate Professor at Georgetown University, Washington DC Samantha Pinto, and the Sudanese CNN television correspondent Nima Elbagir.

Once again the winner of the £10,000 Caine Prize will be given the opportunity of taking up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. The award will cover all travel and living expenses.  The winner will also be invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2012 and events hosted by the Museum of African Art in New York in November 2012.

Last year the Caine Prize was won by Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo. She has subsequently been awarded the highly regarded two-year Stegner Writing Fellowship at Stanford University, in the United States and her debut novel, We Need New Names, is forthcoming from Little, Brown in North America and Chatto and Windus in the UK.

Previous winners 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) and Sierra Leonean Olufemi Terry (2010).

The Caine Prize 2012 Five Shortlisters. From left: Stanley Kenani, Jenna Cato Bass, Billy Kahora, Rotimi Babatunde and Melissa Myambo.

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