Nigeria: Caine prize for African writing awarded to EC Osondu

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Nigerian writer EC Osondu has fended off competition from Ghana, Kenya, and South African writers to claim this year’s Caine Prize for African Writing.
Selected from 122 entries from 12 African countries, the winner of the prize was announced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, Monday July 6.

The $16,000 prize- widely known as the African Booker is awarded annually for a short story by an African writer published in English.
Osondu won the award for his story about a child’s life in a refugee camp, entitled ‘Waiting.’

New Statesman Chief Sub-Editor Nana Yaa Mensah, described Mr. Osondu’s story as “a tour de force describing, from a child’s point of view, the dislocating experience of being a displaced person.” Winning the prize includes a month’s scholarship at Georgetown University in Washington DC as a Writer-in-Residence.

The Nigerian writer currently teaches literature at Providence College, Rhode Island, U.S.A. He received his M.F.A. in fiction writing from the University of Syracuse in 2007, after immigrating to the US from Lagos, Nigeria. His story “Voice of America,” which was published in the 2008 Fiction Issue of Vice Magazine, has been translated into Italian, French and German.

In 2006, his short story, “A Letter From Home,” published in Agni (Boston University’s literary journal), was recognized as one of the best Internet Stories of the year, and in 2007, Osondu was one of five finalists for the prestigious Caine Prize in African Writing, for his story “Jimmy Carter’s Eyes.”

While in Nigeria, Osondu co-edited For Ken, For Nigeria (1996), a collection of poems in memory of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the slain Nigerian writer and political activist. According to reports, his story on the genocide in Darfur is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, and Fiction Magazine is scheduled to publish his story about an American oil company executive kidnapped in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. Currently, Osondu is working on a novel about genocide.

The 2009 shortlist comprised:

Mamle Kabu (Ghana) ‘The End of Skill’ from ‘Dreams, Miracles and Jazz’, published by Picador Africa, Johannesburg 2008

Parselelo Kantai (Kenya) ‘You Wreck Her’, from the St Petersburg Review, NY 2008

Alistair Morgan (South Africa) ‘Icebergs’, from The Paris Review no. 183, NY 2008

EC Osondu (Nigeria) ‘Waiting‘ from, October 2008

Mukoma wa Ngugi (Kenya) ‘How Kamau wa Mwangi Escaped into Exile’, from ‘Wasafiri’ No54, Summer 2008, London.

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