The 2015 Winner - Namwali Serpell - Zambia
Zambia’s Namwali Serpell has won the £10 000 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing, described as Africa’s leading literary award, for her short story entitled “The Sack” from Africa39 (Bloomsbury, London, 2014).
“The Sack” explores a world where dreams and reality are both claustrophobic and dark. The relationship between two men and an absent woman are explored though troubled interactions and power relationships which jar with the views held by the characters.
Chair of judges, Zoë Wicomb praised the story, saying, “From a very strong shortlist we have picked an extraordinary story about the aftermath of revolution with its liberatory promises shattered. It makes demands on the reader and challenges conventions of the genre. It yields fresh meaning with every reading. Formally innovative, stylistically stunning, haunting and enigmatic in its effects. ‘The Sack’ is a truly luminous winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing.”
Namwali Serpell’s first published story, “Muzungu,” was selected for the Best American Short Stories 2009 and shortlisted for the 2010 Caine Prize for African Writing. In 2014, she was selected as one of the most promising African writers for the Africa 39 Anthology, a project of the Hay festival. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The Believer, n+1, McSweeney’s (forthcoming), Bidoun, Callaloo, The San Francisco Chronicle, The L.A. Review of Books, and The Guardian. She is an associate professor in the University of California, Berkeley English department; her first book of literary criticism, Seven Modes of Uncertainty, was published in 2014.