BUSHRA al-Fadil the Sudanese writer has won the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story entitled: The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away.
The story was written in Arabic in 1979 but translated in English recently.
The award which carries £10,000 was announced by the Caine Prize Chair of Judges, Nii Ayikwei Parkes tonight following a dinner held at Senate House, London, in partnership with SOAS.
As a translated story, Caine Prize said the prize money will be split – with £7,000 going to Bushra and £3,000 to the translator, Max Shmookler.
The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away, vividly describes life in a bustling market through the eyes of the narrator, who becomes entranced by a beautiful woman he sees there one day. After a series of brief encounters, tragedy unexpectedly befalls the woman and her young female companion.
Commenting on the narrative of the story Parkes said: “the winning story is one that explores through metaphor and an altered, inventive mode of perception – including, for the first time in the Caine Prize, illustration – the allure of, and relentless threats to freedom.
Furthermore Parkes said: “Rooted in a mix of classical traditions as well as the vernacular contexts of its location, Bushra al-Fadil’s “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”, is at once a very modern exploration of how assaulted from all sides and unsupported by those we would turn to for solace we can became mentally exiled in our own lands, edging in to a fantasy existence where we seek to cling to a sort of freedom until ultimately we slip into physical exile.”
Bushra al-Fadil lives in Saudi Arabia. His most recent collection Above a City’s Sky was published in 2012, the same year he won the al-Tayeb Salih Short Story Award. Bushra holds a PhD in Russian language and literature.
Bushra beat four other shortlisted African writers – listed below – to scoop the prize:
•Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria) for ‘Who Will Greet You At Home’ published in The New Yorker (USA. 2015)
oRead ‘Who Will Greet You At Home’.
•Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria) for ‘Bush Baby’ published in African Monsters, eds. Margarét Helgadóttir and Jo Thomas (Fox Spirit Books, UK. 2015)
oRead ‘Bush Baby’
•Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) for ‘God’s Children Are Little Broken Things’ published in A Public Space 24 (A Public Space Literary Projects Inc., USA. 2016)
oRead ‘God’s Children are Little Broken Things’
•Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa) for ‘The Virus’ published in The Harvard Review 49 (Houghton Library Harvard University, USA. 2016)
oRead ‘The Virus’
The Caine Prize is awarded annually for African creative writing, for a short story published in English (indicative length 3,000 to 10,000 words).