Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Caine Prize and African Writing

M.A. Orthofer got me thinking and even laughing, with his incisive comment on the Bookerishness of a short story prize. To be sure, the Caine Prize for African writing has been called the African Booker. Friends, this is a short story prize, and the organizers thought it honorable enough to call it the African Booker. But then there is an Arab Booker, Russian Booker, Asian Booker - all for published novels. Chei, chei, my goodness. It's like giving three women gifts. The first gets a real Rolls Royce, the second, a real, real, Rolls Royce, and the third, gets a Toyota Corrolla. She dances away happily announcing to the world: Rejoice with me, this is my Rolls Royce. Get it?

Anyway, here is Orthofer:
"The premier short-story prize of (sort of) the continent, I'm still no big fan of their touting it as: "widely known as the 'African Booker' and regarded as Africa's leading literary award". (The Booker -- all the Booker variations, from the Man to the Russian one -- are for novels (well, save the International one, which is an author/career prize), but for some reason African authors must make do with no more than 10,000 words ?)"
Orhofer also raises another important issue discussed by our Ikhide. ENJOY!

1 comment:

  1. I think one should not look down upon the short story format, it is not quantity but quality that matters, so it is 10 000 words, but that is not the point, the point is what can/ are those 10 000 words saying? Brevity often is a wise man's most useful tool. The novel is a great and challenging format in its own way true, but one must not confuse size with matter.