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Zim writer scoops Caine prize

Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo has won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for her short story ­Hitting Budapest, which appeared in The Boston Review, Vol 35, no 6 — Nov/Dec 2010.

The chair of the judges, award-­winning Libyan author Hisham Matar, announced Bulawayo as the winner of the £10 000 prize at a dinner held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford last week.

Matar said: “The language of Hitting Budapest crackles. Here we encounter Darling, Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, Stina and Sbho, a gang reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange. But these are children, poor and violated and hungry. This is a story with moral power and weight; it has the artistry to refrain from moral commentary. NoViolet Bulawayo is a writer who takes delight in language.”

Bulawayo was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She recently completed a master of fine arts degree at Cornell University in the United States, where she is now a Truman Capote Fellow and English lecturer. Another of her stories, Snapshots, was short-listed for the 2009 SA PEN/Studzinski Literary Award. She recently completed a novel manuscript tentatively titled We Need New Names and has begun work on a memoir project.

Also short-listed were:

  • Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana) for In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata from The Bed Book of Short Stories (Modjaji Books, 2010);
  • Tim Keegan (South Africa) for What Molly Knew from Bad Company (Pan Macmillan SA, 2008);
  • David Medalie (South Africa) for The Mistress’s Dog, from The Mistress’s Dog: Short stories 1996-2010 (Picador Africa, 2010); and
  • Beatrice Lamwaka (Uganda) for Butterfly Dreams from Butterfly Dreams and Other New Short Stories from Uganda (Critical, Cultural and Communications Press, Nottingham, 2010).

    The Caine Prize for African Writing is named in memory of the late Sir Michael Caine, former chair of the Booker Group. He was also chair of the Booker Prize management committee for almost 25 years.

    The first prize was awarded in 2000 at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in Harare and the second at the Nairobi Book Fair in 2001.

    Subsequently it became tradition to announce the winner at a dinner in Oxford in July to which the short-listed candidates are all invited. It forms part of a week of activities for the candidates, including book readings, signings and press ­opportunities.

    Caine chair Matar’s first novel, In the Country of Men, was short-listed for the 2006 Man Booker Prize. His second novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, is published by Viking.

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