AKO Caine Prize For African Writing: Review of shortlisted stories continues! Part One has an introduction to the prize and thoughts on A Double-Edged Inheritance by Hannah Giorgis so if you missed that click here to catch up!

AKO CAINE Prize for African Writing 2022 shortlist winner
Photo via AKO Caine Prize 2022 website

Collector of Memories by Joshua Chizoma 

Read it here; Originally published in Afritondo Prize Anthology 2021


From the start, there is something somber in the tone and with every sentence, there is a sense of revelations to come. Chizoma delivers. From the scene setting compound conflict to the Nollywood tinged conclusion of the tale, Chizoma asks the outcome of not knowing our pasts. Of not holding fate in our hands and of what we are willing to sacrifice for what we think we need. It’s a lot to do in 18 pages but it’s done vividly and done well. I loved the communal aspect of four women raising the protagonist and different qualities they bring (Aunty Primary Four!)

Why should it win?: Engaging writing style, character building of the aunties, bit of Nollywood, questions what a mother is

When a Man Loves a Woman by Nana-Ama Danquah
Read it here; Originally published in Accra Noir, Akashic Books/ Cassava Republic Press 2020

There are a few things I love about this story. How do you spin a twist like this? Equal parts twisted and entirely logical?? And how do you begin a story like this?: Every morning for the past five days, Kwame had woken up next to a corpse. It’s impressive how much sex these 50-somethings are having. Also impressive is how Danquah uses the evolving nature of that sex to denote stages of their relationship. Ghana, in this story is a character, a feature of all the stories in Accra Noir.  There are so many elements of the story that give a completely accurate depiction of the immigrant experience for a certain generation. The intentions to return, the swindling of remittances by relatives- and yet this is not the story.

Why should it win?: Dramatic, lucid turn on the mundane; characterization of protagonists’ evolving relationship and immigrant experience ; entertaining!

AKO Caine Prize 2022 Shortlist Winner- A Rundown Part 1

Five Years Next Sunday by Idza Luhumyo
Read it here; Originally published in Disruption: New Short Fiction From Africa by Catalyst Press/Short Story Day Africa 2020

I really enjoyed this story, I’m a fan of surreal narratives and Luhumyo combines this well with elements of dystopia, climate disaster (drought), local beliefs and colonial gaze. There are concerning family dynamics at play here too, betrayal and fear. I think I will need the rest of the Disruption collection!  Five Years next Sunday is very different from the other Shortlisted entries for the 2020 AKO Caine Prize and reminds me a bit of Grace Jone’s position for the 2020 prize. Luhumyo cleverly makes a commentary of the use of daughters in bargains for familie’s increased status. Betrayal outweighs love by far here but there are lessons to be taken from the origins of traitor’s motives.

Why should it win?: Very imaginative; commentary on climate, beliefs and white saviours; very mysterious

The Labadi Sunshine Bar by Billie McTernan
Read it here; Originally published in Accra Noir, Akashic Books/ Cassava Republic Press 2020

Another engrossing story from the Accra Noir collection. Again here one of my favorite aspects is the feel we get for Ghana. From the descriptions of landfills and beach to disdain for sakawa boys, a reader can be right there with the characters. We’re introduced to Madam Jojo and Priscilla (Cici) . Both women are sex workers and seem to be at opposing ends of their career. Cici, just starting out and Madam Jojo, seasoned and seemingly envious of the attention Cici calls from her own most loyal client. The constant power struggles takes a dire turn but you can’t help wondering is Cici’s fate will ultimately mirror Jojo’s. She is struggling to escape the prisons she feels love can set around a woman- Jojo’s failure to escape shows it could be unavoidable.

Why should it win?: Entertaining! a power struggle written to allow an outsider to read between the lines

Winner being Announced today!

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