- Kenyan writer Idza Luhumyo’s ‘Five Years Next Sunday’ awarded the £10,000 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing
- Luhumyo’s story beat 267 eligible entries in a record year of submissions
- ‘An incandescent story’ – Okey Ndibe, Chair of Judging Panel for the 2022 AKO Caine Prize
- Luhumyo is 5th Kenyan writer to win the award after Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Yvonne Owuor (2003), Okwiri Oduor (2014), and Makena Onjerika (2018)
Kenyan writer Idza Luhumyo has been awarded the 2022 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story ‘Five Years Next Sunday’, published in Disruption (Catalyst Press and Short Story Day Africa, 2021). She is the fifth Kenyan writer to win the award after Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Yvonne Owuor (2003), Okwiri Oduor (2014) and Makena Onjerika (2018).
Okey Ndibe, Chair of the 2022 AKO Caine Prize Judging Panel, announced the winner at an award ceremony tonight at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Luhumyo’s story was described by Ndibe as ‘an incandescent story – its exquisite language wedded to the deeply moving drama of a protagonist whose mystical office invites animus at every turn.’
Judging the Prize alongside Ndibe this year were French-Guinean author and academic Elisa Diallo; South African literary curator and co-founder of The Cheeky Natives Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane; UK-based Nigerian visual artist Ade ‘Àsìkò’ Okelarin; Kenyan co-founder of the Book Bunk Angela Wachuka.
Luhumyo takes the £10,000 prize, beating 267 eligible entries in a record year of submissions. She will be published in the 2022 AKO Caine Prize anthology later this year by Cassava Republic Press. Advance reader copies were gifted to the ceremony’s attendees.
‘Five Years Next Sunday’, which won the 2021 Short Story Day Africa Prize, is a story about a young woman with the unique power to call the rain in her hair. Feared by her family and community, a chance encounter with a foreigner changes her fortunes, but there are duplicitous designs upon her most prized and vulnerable possession.
Ndibe, speaking of Luhumyo’s story, said: ‘What we liked about the story was the mystical office of the protagonist, who is both ostracised and yet holds the fate of her community in her hair. She is stripped of agency by her immediate family, as well as the Europeans who give the impression of placing her on a pedestal, yet within that seeming absence of agency, and oppressive world, is her stubborn reclamation of herself. The dramatic tension in the story is so powerful and palpable that it’s like something you could cut with a knife.’
The 2022 Judging Panel spoke highly of the shortlist, commending the other stories for the quality of writing and variety of genre. Mokgoroane and Diallo applauded the diversity of genre, while Ndibe added that there was ‘a sense of the genius in the other contenders’. Okelarin said the stories were ‘well written and emotionally resonant’, and Wachuka praised the inclusion of writers who are also editors (Danquah edited the Accra Noir anthology which featured Danquah’s and McTernan’s story).
Speaking of The AKO Caine Prize, Wachuka said: ‘The historic import of the Prize on writers’ trajectories has ranged from the formation of literary entities, to unmatched global visibility, and opportunities including publishing deals and writing fellowships. I am honoured to have worked with such a formidable group of judges to contribute to the expansion of craft and our publishing ecology.’
Joining Luhumyo on this year’s shortlist were:
- Joshua Chizoma (Nigeria) for his story ‘Collector of Memories’, published in The Hope, The Prayer, The Anthem, Afritondo (2021). Read here.
- Nana-Ama Danquah (Ghana) for her story ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’, published in Accra Noir (Cassava Republic Press, UK & Commonwealth, Akashic Books, US, 2020). Read here.
- Hannah Giorgis (Ethiopia) for her story ‘A Double-Edged Inheritance’, published in Addis Ababa Noir (Cassava Republic Press, UK & Commonwealth, Akashic Books, US, 2020). Read here.
- Billie McTernan (Ghana) for her story ‘The Labadi Sunshine Bar’, published in Accra Noir (Cassava Republic Press, UK & Commonwealth, Akashic Books, US, 2020). Read here.
Each shortlisted writer receives £500 and will also be published in the 2022 AKO Caine Prize anthology.
The winning story ‘Five Years Next Sunday’ can be read on the AKO Caine Prize website here.