Okojie bags Caine Prize, Okorafor comic praised

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The winner of the 2020 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing is Nigerian-British writer Irenosen Okojie for her short story “Grace Jones”.

The story appeared in Irenosen’s latest book “Nudibranch”, a collection published by Little Brown’s Dialogue Books in 2019.

The AKO Caine Prize is an annual prize awarded for African creative writing. Irenosen is the 21st winner of the prize, which was established in 2000.

She was shortlisted alongside Sugo Anyadike, Chikodili Emelumadu, Jowhor Ile, and Rémy Ngamije. As the winner, she goes home with the £10,000 (about US$13,000) cash prize while fellow shortlistees receive £500 each (about US$650).

A few weeks ago, the organisers announced a big change in the format for revealing the winner of the prize.

Typically, the winner is announced during the award dinner held at the British Library. But this year, the dinner had to be put on hold due to pandemic conditions.

As a result, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, chair of the judging panel, announced Irenosen’s win in a documentary film on the Caine Prize made by British-Nigerian filmmaker Joseph Adesunloye.

Irenosen came into the literary limelight in 2016 with her debut novel “Butterfly Fish”, which won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for an Edinburgh International First Book Award.

The winning story “Grace Jones” is centred on a traumatic experience that shapes the life of a woman who impersonates the celebrated singer Grace Jones.

The work has been praised for exploring “the particular experience of being black and African in a global city such as London”.

Judging panel chair Kenneth Tharp highlighted the story’s “extraordinary imagination,” “stunning prose,” and relevance for our current moment.

Other members on the judging panel are South African broadcast journalist Audrey Brown, Irish-Nigerian poet and playwright Gabriel Gbadamosi, Ethiopian-born non-fiction editor Ebissé Wakjira-Rouw, and Kenya-based blogger and journalist James Murua.

Meanwhile, Nnedi Okorafor is the winner of the 2020 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album (Reprint) for her African futurist comic book about alien immigrants on earth titled “La Guardia”

Okorafor emerged winner from a nominee list of six. She shares the award with illustrators Tana Ford and James Devlin.

First awarded in 1988, the Eisner Award, commonly referred to as the comic Industry’s Oscars, is named in honour of writer and artist Will Eisner and is annually conferred for “creative achievements in American comic books”.

Nominees in each category are determined by a five-six member jury, with the winners decided through a ballot system by professionals in the comic industry. - Brittle Paper

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