Congratulations to Zambian writer Namwali Serpell, who has won the Caine Prize - awarded annually to an outstanding African short story author writing in English. Serpell's story, The Sack, was selected from a shortlist of six stories as "a truly luminous winner", yet Serpell wasn't content to simply accept the award and the attached prize of £10,000 for herself.
At the Bodleian Library, Oxford, event last night, Serpell vowed to share the sum with her fellow shortlisted writers, each of whom formally receive £500.
Chair of judges Zoë Wicomb says The Sack, in which two men who live together love the same woman, "yields fresh meaning with every reading. Adding that it is, "stunning, haunting and enigmatic."
But while the praise is well-deserved, Serpell clearly feels the award should be better spread.
Speaking to the BBC, the author told that her decision to share the prize awarded was "an act of mutiny", clearly intended to highlight the community support of authors over elevation of individuals.
Something which, as Ms Serpell clearly feels in a position to do, we can only praise her for.
I wanted to change the structure of the prize. It is very awkward to be placed into this position of competition with other writers that you respect immensely and you feel yourself put into a sort of American idol or race-horse situation when actually, you all want to support each other."
Frankly, we say bravo, and have nothing but respect for that!
The Caine Prize powers-that-be have marvellously made The Sack available to read just here (it's a powerful 13 pages). And below you'll find details of the shortlisted runners up.
- Segun Afolabi (Nigeria) for “The Folded Leaf” in Wasafiri (Wasafiri, London, 2014) Caine Prize winner 2005 for “Monday Morning” Read "The Folded Leaf"
- Elnathan John (Nigeria) for “Flying” in Per Contra (Per Contra, International, 2014) Shortlisted in 2013 for “Bayan Layi”Read "Flying"
- F. T. Kola (South Africa) for “A Party for the Colonel” in One Story (One Story, inc. Brooklyn, New York City, 2014) Read "A Party for the Colonel"
- Masande Ntshanga (South Africa) for “Space” in Twenty in 20 (Times Media, South Africa, 2014) Read "Space".