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And the 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing goes to…

Arts & Culture

And the 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing goes to…

Nigerian writer Lesley Nneka Arimah has won the 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing – often described as Africa’s leading literary award, for her short story entitled “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.

Announcing the award, Peter Kimani said: “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 defamiliarises 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.”

Skinned, is published inMcSweeney’s Quarterly Concern (Issue 53) 2018.  

An excerpt from Skinned can be read here

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Written by Regina Jane Jere

reGina Jane Jere is a Zambian-born London-based journalist and founding Editor of the New African Woman magazine the sister-publication of the New African magazine of which she was the Deputy Editor for over a decade. The mother of two juggles a wide-range of editorial and managerial duties, but she has particular passion on women’s health, education, rights and empowerment. She is also a former Zambian correspondent for Agence France Presse, and a former Africa Researcher at Index on Censorship. She writes extensively on a wide range of issues, from politics to women’s rights, media and free speech to beauty and fashion.

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