Nigerian writer, Nneka Lesley Arimah has been announced inner of the 2019 Edition of the Caine Prize for African Writing. She will be awarded a cash award of £10,000 pounds sterling.
Before now, she had been shortlisted twice for this prize. As the popular saying goes, three is a charm. Nneka won the prize the third time she made the shortlist.
“Skinned” is the title of the short story that fetched her this prestigious award. It’s a dystopian tale, set in a parallel universe where girls are unclothed at a certain age until a husband claims them. The story portrays the life of Ejem who struggles to cope with the pressures of her society until she takes a nontraditional decision to clothe herself.
If you haven’t read the story yet, click the shortlist announcement here and download the story.
“Skinned” was published in McSweeny’s Quarterly magazine.
Here’s what the judge had to say about Arimah’s story,
“The winner of this year’s Caine Prize for African Writing is a unique retake of women’s struggle for inclusion in a society regulated by rituals. Lesley Nneka Arimah’s Skinned defamiliarizes the familiar to topple social hierarchies, challenge traditions and envision new possibilities for women of the world. Using a sprightly diction, she invents a dystopian universe inhabited by unforgettable characters where friendship is tested, innocence is lost, and readers gain a new understanding of life.”
After the award dinner in Senate House, Nneka Lesley Aimah granted a BBC correspondent an interview. Towards the end of their chat, Nneka was generous enough to give some writing advice,
I’ll advice every young writer to read… reading will give you the skills you need to creatively write down the story you have imagined.
-says Nneka Arimah.
So there, you have it. If you want to win the next prize, read. You can start with these stories below.
Click to read more stories by Nneka Lesley Arimah.