The Caine Prize for African Writing for 2010 was awarded last night to the Sierra Leonean writer Olufemi Terry, for his story ‘Stickfighting Days’. The story is uniquely powerful, entering into the minds and culture of boys who live on a rubbish dump in an unnamed city but whose lives derive their meaning from their highly skilled but brutal battles with sticks.
I thought Terry’s story was a very worthy winner. I knew all five of the shortlisted stories well, having edited them for the New Internationalist book which showcases them - A Life in Full and other stories, which is available now from our webshop. The book also contains 12 other stories specially written at a workshop held in Kenya by writers from right across the African continent.
Given that we could not know in advance which of the five shortlisted stories would win the Caine Prize, we decided to draw the title of the book from one of the workshop stories, by the Nigerian novelist Jude Dibia, who also contributed to New Internationalist’s One World anthology of short stories from last year.
The prizegiving event took place in the magnificent, if rather incongruous, surroundings of the Divinity School in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Among the guests was the Nigerian Booker Prize winner Ben Okri, who contributed a story and an introduction to last year’s volume celebrating Ten Years of the Caine Prize for African Writing.