Kenyan author Okwiri Oduor has won the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story ‘My Father’s Head.’
‘My Father’s Head,’ explores the narrator’s struggle to remember what her father’s head looked like as she tries to deal with his death. She has no problem remembering his face because as her colleague from the nursing home she works at says, “Although everyone has a head behind their face, some show theirs easily; they turn their back on you and their head is all you can see. [Your] father was a good man and good men never show [you] their heads; they show you their faces.”
“Okwiri Oduor is a writer we are all really excited to have discovered says the Chair of Judges, Jackie May MBE in a press release. “‘My Father’s Head’ is an uplifting story about mourning – Joycean in its reach. She exercises an extraordinary amount of control and yet the story is subtle, tender and moving. It is a story you want to return to the minute you finish it,” she added.
Described as Africa’s leading literary award, the Caine Prize is in its fifteenth year. The £10,000 award celebrates short stories written by African authors.
Also shortlisted were Ghana and Zambia’s Efemia Chela’s ‘Chicken,’ South Africa’s Diane Awerbuck’s ‘Phosphorescence,’ Zimbabwe’s Tendai Huchu’s ‘The Intervention’ and Kenya’s Billy Kahora’s ‘The Gorilla’s Apprentice.’ They will each receive £500.
Oduor will take up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. She will also take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2014, the Storymoja Hay Festival in Nairobi and the Ake Festival in Nigeria.
Last year’s prize was won by Nigerian Tope Folarin. Zimbabwean author NoViolet Bulawayo won 2011’s prize and Sierra Leonean Olufemi Terry won in 2010.
Read this year’s shortlisted stories here.