The Caine Prize for African Writing is an annual literary award for the best original short story by an African writer, whether in Africa or elsewhere, published in the English language. This scholarship for writing was first established in 2000 and was first awarded to the Sudanese writer Leila Aboulela for her short story “The Museum”, at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in Harare. In its first year, the Prize attracted entries from 20 African countries.
Among supporters of the prize are friends of Sir Michael Caine in the UK, United States and Africa, the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, the Zochonis Foundation, the Marit & Hans Rausing Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Headley Trust, the Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust, the David Alliance Family Foundation, the Cairns Charitable Trust, the Botwinick-Wolfensohn Family Foundation, the Sunrise Foundation, the Von Clemm Charitable Trust, the Royal Over-Seas League, Sarova Hotels, Bata Shoes (Kenya) Ltd and (Zimbabwe) Ltd and Kenya Airways.
The four African winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature have supported the Caine Prize as patrons: Wole Soyinka, Nadine Gordimer, Naguib Mahfouz and J. M. Coetzee. Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Sir Michael’s widow, is President of the council and Jonathan Taylor is the chairman.
- Applicants must have written a story that in the last five years preceding the submission deadline date of January 31, 2022.
- If a story has less than 3,000 words or more than 10,000 words written the application will be tossed or ignored. A student’s work must stay in between that amount.
- Short stories from an individuals must be submitted by a publisher or the company that originally published the story.
- Stories submitted to this scholarship prize must have been originally published in English.
- If a publisher has submitted the same story before and it did not win, a publisher cannot submit the same story.
- Genres that cannot be submitted would be factual writing, children stories, biography and screenplays.
- It must be specficed on the submission which African country the writer is from.
- Publishers can submit multiple stories (in fact it is encouraged) by different authors not just one writer.
- The individual must be a writer, a publisher cannot submit their own short story.
- The writer must be originally from an African territories: Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Sudan, Algeria, Angola, Mali, Uganda, Ghana, Cameroon, Malawi, Rwanda, Benin, Burundi, Chad, Zambia, Togo, Liberia, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, and many more.
- Publishers must also specify word count within the stories they submit.
- Both male or female writers are acceptable.
- There is no age-limit or restrictions with this award only that the writer has been published at least once before.
An African writer’ is taken to mean someone who is a national of an African country, or who has a parent who is African by birth or nationality.
Works translated into English from other languages are eligible, provided they have been published in English translation. Should such a work win, the prize is split between the translator and the original language author along the following lines: 70% of the prize to the author, and 30% to the translator. Where the original work is by a non-living author the prize is split in equal halves between the translator and the author’s estate.
How to Apply
The only way to apply is if an African writer has had a short story of theirs between 3,000 and 10,000 words has been published. Afteward, that publisher would need to be the nominator in sending in that writer’s story to the AKO charity.
Students would need to submit their entry via the online submission portal – details of which will be released during the normal submissions period. These details and directions will appear online through the link provided.
Officially the individuals who can submit these published stories are:
Works entered by the writers of the submitted stories are ineligible.
Only short stories published by third-party organisations are eligible for the AKO Caine Prize. Self-published and unpublished works are not eligible
Short stories must be submitted by a publisher. We also welcome submissions from physical and online literary journals and magazines
Publishers are required to provide:
Name of the writer(s)
Title of the story or stories being submitted
Word count of each story
The qualifying nationality of the writer(s)
The date of publication of the story or stories
Confirmation of consent from the writer(s) whose stories are being submitted for the Prize
It should be noted that unpublished works are not eligible for the Prize. Also, for avoidance of doubt, stories self-published on mass self-publishing platforms – (WattPad, author-me.com, Lulu and Amazon Kindle) – are not eligible for the prize.
Only thing that has not been physically printed and sold on paperback or hardback will not be accepted. The Prize accepts work published by journals in print and online, as well as work published in short story collections and anthologies.
Reward – Extra Benefits
The winner is announced at a dinner in July, formerly held in Oxford but most recently at SOAS, University of London to which the shortlisted candidates are all invited. This is part of a week of activities for the candidates, including readings, book signings and press opportunities.
One chosen winner will win £10,000 in prize money and four short-listed writers will receive £500 a piece.
Winners can also expect to receive media attention such as conducting interviews, panel discussions, and readings with an international audience.
The official deadline date is Janaury 31, 2022 however, publishers may want to wait until January 2023 since the deadline is very close now.
The previous 2021 winner was Ethiopia’s Meron Hadero.
Open Submission Window Time Frame
The official open submissions window time frame is between late 2021-early 2022, but some publishers may want to wait until 2023 to send in more published short stories by multiple qualifying authors.
Short stories that do not meet the criteria will not be considered for the prize.
This is an annual scholarship prize that happens each and every year since the established year 2000. Also it should be noted that, publishers must obtain consent from the writer(s) before submitting their stories for the Prize.