Lesley Nneka Arimah has won the 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story entitled “Skinned”, published in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern (Issue 53) 2018.
She has been awarded $12,500 (£10,000) for her winning the 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing.
Dr. Peter Kimani, Chair of Judges announced Lesley as the winner of the £10,000 prize at an award dinner on 8 July, 2019. The ceremony was held for the third time in Senate House, in partnership with SOAS and the Centre for African Studies.
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 defamiliarizes 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” 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. “Skinned” is a bold and unsettling tale of bodily autonomy and womanhood, and the fault lines along which solidarities are formed and broken.
Those shortlisted writers for the 2019 Caine Prize alongside Arimah includes: ‘The Wall’ by Ethiopian author, Meron Hadero; ‘Sew My Mouth’ by Kenyan Author, Cherrie Kandie; ‘It Takes A Village Some Say’ by Cameroonian author, Ngwah-Mbo Nana Nkweti; ‘All Our Lives’ by Nigerian author, Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor.
The Caine Prize was established in 2000 with the aim of bringing African writing to a wider international audience by highlighting and celebrating short stories published in English by African authors.