Interview

Meet the Shortlisted Writers for the 2021 AKO Caine Prize

Get acquainted with the five writers shortlisted for this year's AKO Caine Prize, one of the most prestigious African literature accolades.

The 2021 AKO Caine Prize has recently announced this year's shortlisted writers for, perhaps, one of the most coveted African Literature awards on the continent. This year, the AKO Caine Prize celebrates 21 years of highlighting literary talent across Africa.

Five writers, hailing from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Namibia, made this year's shortlist, with the winner set to be announced later in the year. The shortlist comprises Rémy Ngamije, Doreen Baingana, Troy Onyango, Iryn Tushabe and Meron Hadero.

Describing this year's cohort of writers, Founding Director of the African Writers Trust and this year's chair of judges, Goretti Kyomuhendo enthused:

"What comes across vividly in this year's shortlisted stories, through their impressive craft and intelligent language is their ability to resonate profoundly with the reader. My fellow judges and I were reminded, once again, of the redemptive power of stories. These remarkable five narratives all exemplify, with delicacy and truth, what good fiction is. Intermingling politics and humour, brutality and love, loss and hope, each of these stories poignantly convey images of the continent and its diaspora that demand to be read. The true art of African storytelling is manifested in the voices of these five exceptional pieces."

We caught up with each of the five writers, and they indulged us in their respective writing processes, personal quirks and what the AKO Caine Prize means to them.

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

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