Rotimi Babatunde Wins the 2012 Caine Prize for African Writing

Nigeria’s Rotimi Babatunde on Monday won the 2012 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for his short story entitled ‘Bombay’s Republic’.

The Chair of Judges, Bernardine Evaristo, announced Rotimi as the winner of the £10,000 prize at a dinner held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Evaristo described ‘Bombay’s Republic’ as a vivid depiction 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,” Evaristo said.

Rotimi, who lives in Ibadan, Nigeria, becomes the fourth Nigerian to win the prestigious prize.

Also shortlisted for the award were: Billy Kahora (Kenya) ‘Urban Zoning’;  Stanley Kenani (Malawi) ‘Love on Trial’; Melissa Tandiwe Myambo (Zimbabwe) ‘La Salle de Départ’; Constance Myburgh (South Africa) ‘Hunter Emmanuel’.

Rotimi, whose fiction and poems have been published in Africa, Europe, and America; is also 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. 

The winner of the Caine Prize gets 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)


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