Kenyan author Makena Onjerika wins the 2018 Caine prize for ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’ her book about Nairobi’s street children securing her the coveted £10,000 prize.
Fanta Blackcurrant” which was first published in Wasafiri in 2017. Onjerika is the fourth Kenyan to win the literary award. It was a surprise win for the writer, who graduated at MFA Creative Writing programme at New York University.
“Fanta Blackcurrant” is the story of street girls, with Meri as the central character,and how they do what it takes to survive the streets. Meri dreams of having “a big Fanta Blackcurrant” to drink every day. While the other children crave community Meri wants sweetness.
The other four finalists for the award were: Nonyelum Ekwempu (Nigeria), Stacy Hardy (South Africa), Olufunke Ogundimu (Nigeria) and Wole Talabi (Nigeria).
Caine Prize Chair judging panel Dinaw Mengestu, praised her narrative in his remarks saying, “The winner of this year’s Caine Prize is as fierce as they come–a narrative forged but not defined by the streets of Nairobi, a story that stands as more than just witness. Makena Onjerika’s ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’ presides over a grammar and architecture of its own making, one that eschews any trace of sentimentality in favour of a narrative that is haunting in its humour, sorrow and intimacy.”