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The Caine Prize and Contemporary African Writing


The tenth anniversary of the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2009 triggered an internal debate about whether the prize was still needed. Since the founding of the Prize in 1999, it had achieved its goal of bringing a new generation of African writers to the world stage and it was thought that the momentum it had created could continue on its own. As with most literary prizes, there are critics of the Caine Prize and arguments for altering its remit; there are also those who would like it to become redundant or be replaced by an Africa-based prize, but it was decided that it should continue in its present form. With my appointment as the new administrator in August 2011, it is hoped that the Caine will be able to develop and mature, address some of these criticisms where it is thought they are justified, and transform the prize into a globally recognized award for excellence in African literature. In this article, I shall assess the development of the Caine Prize thus far and set out the vision for its next five years, while attempting to address the conundrums that a British-based award for African literature presents.

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