- NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) ‘Hitting Budapest’ from ‘The Boston Review’ Vol 35, no. 6 - Nov/Dec 2010
- Beatrice Lamwaka (Uganda) ‘Butterfly dreams’ from ‘Butterfly Dreams and Other New Short Stories from Uganda’ published by Critical, Cultural and Communications Press, Nottingham, 2010
- Tim Keegan (South Africa) ‘What Molly Knew’ from ‘Bad Company’ published by Pan Macmillan SA, 2008
- Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana) ‘In the spirit of McPhineas Lata’ from ‘The Bed Book of Short Stories’ published by Modjaji Books, SA, 2010
- David Medalie (South Africa) ‘The Mistress’s Dog’ from ‘The Mistress’s Dog: Short stories 1996-2010’ published by Picador Africa, 2010
You can read their stories by following the links on the Caine Website.
Ikhide Ikheloa wrote two piece on Next criticising many of the writers' portrayal of Africa as still pandering to Western taste. Yes Africa is bush. Africa is hungry children. And wars. He calls them outmoded stereotypes:
"The mostly lazy, predictable stories that made the 2011 shortlist celebrate orthodoxy and mediocrity. They are a riot of exhausted clichés even as ancient conflicts and anxieties fade into the past tense: huts, moons, rapes, wars, and poverty. The monotony of misery simply overwhelms the reader. Fiammetta Rocco, the Economist’s literary editor who chaired last year’s judges, crows that the stories are “uniquely powerful.” The stories are uniquely wretched. The chair of this year’s judges Hisham Matar declares presumptuously that the stories “represent a portrait of today’s African short story: its wit and intelligence, its concerns and preoccupations.” Really? Is this the sum total of our experience, this humourless, tasteless canvas of shiftless Stepin Fetchit suffering?"
He raises the fundamental question that has been raised in the past (Flashback to Binyavanga's "How to Write about Africa" in Granta). How should writers write about Africa? Is there just one way (most times the negative!) of writing about Africa? By the way, these stereotypes, these characters, these environments, are they not with us? Only that with us are also uplifting people and stories that make you smile.
For me, I think the issue is not much with the writers; maybe it lies more with the judges. I figure (and hope) that some stories without the 'outmoded stereotypes' were submitted. Maybe it didn't catch the judges' fancies. Maybe. Now this is even just hypothetical. Maybe we need more 'different' stories. Stories that are not stuck in the past. What do you think?