Nigerian author, Rotimi Babatunde has won the 2012 Caine prize for African writing with his book titled Bombay Republic.
Babatunde’s book is a tale of a Nigerian soldier fighting the Bombay campaign during World War II. It exposes the exploitative nature of colonialism and the psychology behind the fight for independence
With this feat Rotimi Babatunde join the league of young Nigerian writers that have won the coveted prize in recent years. They include, Heleon Habila, who won the prize in 2001 and EC Osondu in 2009.
The Caine prize which is the 13th in the series is one of Africa’s prestigious awards for literary excellence.
The Chair of Judges for the prize, Bernardine Evaristo MBE, announced Rotimi as the winner of the £10,000 prize at a dinner held Monday evening at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
According to Evaristo, “Bombay’s Republic vividly describes the story of a Nigerian soldier fighting in the Burma campaign of World War II. It is ambitious, darkly humorous and in soaring, scorching prose exposes the exploitative nature of the colonial project and the psychology of Independence.”
The winner of the Caine Prize will be given the opportunity of taking up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice.
Babatude will also be invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2012 and events hosted by the Museum of African Art in New York in November 2012.
Rotimi Babatunde’s fiction and poems have been published in Africa, Europe and America in journals which include Die Aussenseite des Elementes and Fiction on the Web and in anthologies including Little Drops and A Volcano of Voices.
He is a winner of the Meridian Tragic Love Story Competition organised by the BBC World Service and his plays have been staged and presented by institutions which include the Halcyon Theatre, Chicago and the Institute for Contemporary Arts.
He is currently taking part in a collaboratively produced piece at the Royal Court and the Young Vic as part of World Stages for a World City.
Rotimi Babtunde was shortlisted with the following:
Billy Kahora (Kenya) ‘Urban Zoning’ from ‘McSweeney’s’
Stanley Kenani (Malawi) ‘Love on Trial’ from ‘For Honour and Other Stories’
Melissa Tandiwe Myambo (Zimbabwe) ‘La Salle de Départ’ from ‘Prick of the Spindle’
Constance Myburgh (South Africa) ‘Hunter Emmanuel’ from ‘Jungle Jim’ Issue 6