Rotimi Babatunde wins Caine prize for African writing
Babatunde’s story, “Bombay’s Republic,” won the £10,000 Caine prizefirst appeared in the Mirabilia Review, a Lagos-based journal, and is about a Nigerian soldier fighting in Burma during World War II. Judge Bernadine Evaristo described the story as “ambitious, darkly humorous and in soaring, scorching prose exposes the exploitative nature of the colonial project and the psychology of Independence.”
Babatunde is a poet, playwright, and fiction writer from the Nigerian state of Ibadan. He’s published his work in journals around the world and is a winner of a love story competition organized by the BBC World Service. He is working on a collaborative piece for World Stages for a World City and told the BBC that he is writing a novel “about migration, choice and love.”
The Caine Prize comes with a £10,000 award and the opportunity to take up a month-long residence at Georgetown University’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, and participate in both the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September and events hosted by the Museum of African Art in New York in November
Babatunde, who beat authors from Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe and SouthAfrica to win the prestigious award for a short story by an African writer published in English, tells of the experiences of Colour Sergeant Bombay in his winning piece Bombay’s Republic. Chair of judges, the novelist and poet Bernadine Evaristo, praised his “vivid” descriptions. “It is ambitious, darkly humorous and in soaring, scorching prose exposes the exploitative nature of the colonial project and the psychology of independence,” she said.
Evaristo had previously spoken of her desire to avoid the “stereotypical narratives” of African fiction when finding a winner, saying she wanted to “show there is a bigger picture” than the “familiar tragic stories” that come from the continent.