Announcing Caine Prize
For the first time, the famous Caine Prize for African Writing has been presented jointly. The winning story, titled “A Soul of Small Places,” was penned by Senegalese authors – Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo – breaking records with an astounding 297 entries from 28 different countries.
Inspired by Diallo’s personal experience of gender-based violence in Senegal, “A Soul of Small Places” intricately navigates themes of violence, revenge, love, and loss, offering a poignant reflection of her own life’s journey.
“The story is simply my life. It’s the struggles I’ve been through that have inspired me,” Diallo shared with the BBC, underscoring the deeply personal nature of the work.
The narrative has been applauded for its profound storytelling and its adeptness in celebrating love while also tackling urgent global issues.
This literary milestone was achieved through a remarkable collaborative effort. The couple revealed to the BBC’s Newsday programme that the story flowed from their pens in a mere six days, as if they were in an almost “possessed” state, embodying a potent fusion of their creative energies.
Diene and Diallo’s paths converged when Diene visited a shelter in northern Senegal, where Woppa was advocating against gender-based violence.
“The co-authoring comes from the fact that the story could not have been written if I hadn’t met Woppa and if I hadn’t heard Woppa speak,” Diene explained.
Significance of Winning the Caine Prize
Beyond the honour of winning the award, the couple emphasised the deeper significance of winning as a family, alongside their daughter.
“You win this prize, then you’re back at the hotel changing diapers and preparing baby bottles – it’s a great reality check. It keeps you humble,” Diene remarked, encapsulating the grounding effect of their familial responsibilities.
The Caine Prize for African Writing, renowned for recognising outstanding short stories by African writers published in English, has taken a historic turn this year, not only by virtue of the record-breaking number of entries but also in celebrating the power of collaboration and personal triumph over adversity.