Nigeria has again made a mark in the literary world with the emergence of Tope Folarin, as winner of the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing with his short story entitled ‘Miracle’ published by Transition in 2012.
The Chair of Judges for the 2013 Caine Prize, Gus Casely-Hayford, announced Tope Folarin as the winner of the £10,000 (N2.5million) prize at a dinner on Monday evening at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
“Tope Folarin’s ‘Miracle’ is another superb Caine Prize winner – a delightful and beautifully paced narrative that is exquisitely observed and utterly compelling” Gus Casely-Hayford said, as he praised the story.
As the winner of the prize which is described as ‘Africa’s leading literary award’, the US based Nigerian will take up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice and will be invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September.
‘Miracle’ is a story set in Texas in an evangelical Nigerian church where the congregation has gathered to witness the healing powers of a blind Pastor-Prophet.
Religion and the gullibility of those caught in the deceit that sometimes comes with faith rise to the surface as a young boy volunteers to be healed and begins to believe in miracles.
By winning the prize for 2013, Tope is succeeding another Nigeria; Rotimi Babatunde, who picked the prize in 2012 with his short story, Bombay Republic.
According to the Caine Prize, Rotimi Babatunde recently co-authored Feast, a Royal Court/Young Vic co-production which ran at the Young Vic as part of World Stages for a World City.
Tope was educated at Morehouse College and the University of Oxford, where he earned two Master’s degrees as a Rhodes Scholar.
He is the recipient of writing fellowships from the Institute for Policy Studies and Callaloo, and he serves on the board of the Hurston/Wright Foundation. He lives and works in Washington DC.
The 2013 shortlist comprises:
Elnathan John (Nigeria) ‘Bayan Layi’ from Per Contra, Issue 25 (USA, 2012)
Tope Folarin (Nigeria) ‘Miracle’ from Transition, Issue 109 (Bloomington, 2012)
Pede Hollist (Sierra Leone) ‘Foreign Aid’ from Journal of Progressive Human Services, Vol. 23.3 (Philadelphia, 2012)
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Nigeria) ‘The Whispering Trees’ from The Whispering Trees, published by Parrésia Publishers (Lagos, 2012)
Chinelo Okparanta (Nigeria) ‘America’ from Granta, Issue 118 (London, 2012)
Previous winners are Sudan’s Leila Aboulela (2000), Nigerian Helon Habila (2001), Kenyan Binyavanga Wainaina (2002), Kenyan Yvonne Owuor (2003), Zimbabwean Brian Chikwava (2004), Nigerian Segun Afolabi (2005), South African Mary Watson (2006), Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko (2007), South African Henrietta Rose-Innes (2008), Nigerian EC Osondu (2009), Sierra Leonean Olufemi Terry (2010) and Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo (2011).