Caine Prize 2019 Winner - Lesley Nneka Arimah

Arimah Bags this year's Caine Prize for African Writing!

Image courtesy - Emily Baxter

Lesley Nneka Arimah is 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing Winner for her short story - Skinned.

‘Skinned’ envisions a society in which young girls are ceremonially ‘uncovered’ and must marry in order to regain the right to be clothed. It tells the story of Ejem, a young woman uncovered at the age of fifteen yet ‘unclaimed’ in adulthood, and her attempts to negotiate a rigidly stratified society following the breakdown of a protective friendship with the married Chidinma. With a wit, prescience, and a wicked imagination, ‘Skinned’ is a bold and unsettling tale of bodily autonomy and womanhood, and the fault lines along which solidarities are formed and broken

The Caine Prize Chair, Peter Kimani had this to say about this year’s winner: “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.”

With the win, Arimah bags the £10000 cash prize attached and joins notable names such as Helton Habila, Leila Aboulela, Binyavanga Wainaina and Yvonne A. Owour who have previously won the coveted prize.

About Arimah

Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up in Nigeria. She won the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story prize for Africa for her story ‘Light” and has been shortlisted thrice for the Caine Prize in 2016, 2017 and 2019. She won the 2019 Prize.

Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, GRANTA and was honoured by the National Book Foundation as ‘Five Under 35’ in 2017.

Her debut collection What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky published by Riverhead Books and Tinder Press (UK), won the 2017 Kirkus Prize, the 2017 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, Minnesota Book Award for Fiction.and was selected for the New York Times/PBS book club.

Arimah is a 2019 United States Artists Fellow in Writing. She lives in Las Vegas and is working on a novel about you.

You can read the winning short story here

Congratulations to Arimah and all other shortlisted candidates who will each receive a £500 token.

· Meron Hadero (Ethiopia) - "The Wall"

· Cherrie Kandie (Kenya) - "Sew My Mouth"

· Ngwah-Mbo Nana Nkweti (Cameroon) - "It Takes A Village Some Say"

· Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor (Nigeria) - "All Our Lives"

List of Previous Caine Prize Winners

2000 Leila Aboulela (Sudan) - "The Museum"

2001 Helon Habila (Nigeria) - "Love Poems"

2002 Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenya) - "Discovering Home"

2003 Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya) - "Weight of Whispers"

2004 Brian Chikwava (Zimbabwe) - "Seventh Street Alchemy"

2005 S. A. Afolabi (Nigeria) - "Monday Morning"

2006 Mary Watson (South Africa) - "Jungfrau"

2007 Monica Arac de Nyeko (Uganda) - "Jambula Tree"

2008 Henrietta Rose-Innes (South Africa) - "Poison"

2009 E. C. Osondu (Nigeria) - "Waiting"

2010 Olufemi Terry (Sierra Leone) - "Stickfighting Days"

2011 NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) - "Hitting Budapest"

2012 Babatunde Rotimi (Nigeria) - "Bombay’s Republic"

2013 Tope Folarin (Nigeria) - "Miracle"

2014 Okwiri Oduor (Kenya) - "My Father's Head"

2015 Namwali Serpell (Zambia) - "The Sack"

2016 Lidudumalingani Mqombothi (South Africa) -"Memories We Lost"

2017 Bushra Elfadil (Sudan) - "The Story of the Girl Whose Bird Flew Away"

2018 Makena Onjerika (Kenya) - "Fanta Blackcurrant"


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