Books & Arts

Ugandan writer on Caine Prize 2023 shortlist

Uganda’s writer Yvonne Kusiima has been nominated for the Caine Prize for African Writing.

Kusiima has been nominated for her story, Weaving, which was published by Isele Magazine in 2022.

She is among the five African Writers nominated for the Caine Prize 2023. Kusiima who lives in Kampala, holds a degree in Social Sciences from Kyambogo University.

Her work has been published in African Writer Magazine, Kalahari Review, Brittle Paper, The Hektoen International Journal of Medical Humanities and Isele Magazine.

Kusiima, has previously told publications that she is interested in the complexities of human societies and aims to shake things up to make the world a better place.

She believes stories have the power to change the status quo, one word at a time.

“Writing allows me to say what I want to say freely.  Also, writing let’s me dream big and believe big. As a girl, I read so many novels and I admired that people like Charles Dickens could, you know, write stories and be so great at it and be so successful. I decided I wanted to write stories and be so successful doing it and I have held on to that. After “Weaving” was published, I found a German proverb: Begin weaving and God will give you the thread. I love that,” she told Isele Magazine in April, 2023.

This year’s cohort, which is the 23rd edition, is stunningly diverse, and features writers from Senegal, Botswana, Nigeria, and Uganda who were carefully selected from a pool of 297 entries originating from 28 African countries.

Fareda Banda, Chair of Judges, and a professor of Law at SOAS, University of London, explained: “Together we have read, discussed and wrestled an eligible submission list of 230 stories down to the final five. This has not been an easy task. The entries showed the depth and scope of writing on the continent and beyond. “The stories spanned generations, genres and themes. They challenged, stimulated, shocked, surprised and delighted us in equal measure. The five shortlisted embrace speculative fiction and artivism (using art as a form of activism). Stories of gender-based violence and reproductive autonomy highlight the power of engaging and innovative or original writing. Love is embodied in stories of grandmothers passing on inter-generational wisdom.  The sense of alienation engendered by teenage diasporic liminality sits alongside comedic outrage about the perceived status downgrade in moving from city to village.   Each story will have its fans and advocates-we loved them all.”

Four out of the six shortlisted finalists reside in Africa, with two from the diaspora.

Sarah Ozo-Irabor, Director of the Caine Prize, says: “We are thrilled to have such an illustrious and highly accomplished panel of judges who will no doubt continue The Caine Prize’s legacy of expanding the wealth of contemporary African writings.”

The Caine Prize for African writing is the most coveted literature award in Africa. It is awarded to the best short story published by an African writer every year.

The shortlisted writers for the 2023 Caine Prize for African Writing are: Yejide Kilanko (Nigeria) for “This Tangible Thing“, s short story that was published in HarperVia (2023), Tlotlo Tsamaase (Botswana) for “Peeling Time (Deluxe Edition)”, a short story which was published in TorDotCom (2022), Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo (Senegal) for “A Soul of Small Places“, published in TorDotCom (2022), Ekemini Pius (Nigeria) for “Daughters, By Our Hands“, published in Isele Magazine (2022) and Yvonne Kusiima (Uganda) for “Weaving“, published in Isele Magazine (2022).

This year’s shortlist also boasts a joint submission and an all-women judging panel, marking significant milestones in the history of the Caine Prize.

The judging panel includes Chair of Judges, Fareda Banda along with Edwige-Renée Dro, a writer, literary translator, and literary activist; Kadija George Sesay, editor and founder of Mboka Festival; Jendella Benson, author and Head of Editorial at Black Ballad; and Warsan Shire, a multi-award winning writer and poet who recently collaborated with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter on her Peabody Award-winning visual album Lemonade and the Disney film Black Is King.

The winner is awarded a £10,000 prize. The five shortlisted writers will attend a series of events in London, including public readings, interviews with media institutions, and private events with agents.

The winner of the 2023 Caine Prize will be announced at a ceremony held on Monday, October 2, 2023 in London, UK.

Previous winners of the prize are Sudan’s Leila Aboulela (2000); Nigeria’s Helon Habila (2001); Kenya’s Binyavanga Wainaina (2002); Kenya’s Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (2003); Zimbabwe’s Brian Chikwava (2004); Nigeria’s S. A. Afolab (2005); South Africa’s Mary Watson (2006); Uganda’s Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007); South Africa’s Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008); Nigeria’s E.C Osondu (2009); and Sierra Leone’s Olufemi Terry (2010).

Others are Zimbabwe’s No Violet Balawayo (2011); Nigeria’s Rotimi Babatunde (2012); Nigeria’s Tope Folarin (2013); Kenya’s Okwiri Oduor (2014); Zambia’s Namwali Serpell (2015); South Africa’s Lidudumalingani (2016); Sudan’s Bushra al-Fadil (2017); Kenya’s Makena Onjerika (2018); Nigeria’s Lesley Nneka Arimah (2019); Nigeria’s Irenosen Okojie (2020); Ethiopias Meron Hadero (2021); and Kenya’s Idza Luhumyo (2022).

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