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Who will win the Caine Prize?

Read extracts from the Caine Prize for African Writing shortlisted candidates' stories and vote for your favourite to win.

Brian Chikwava, from Zimbabwe, won the fifth Caine Prize for African Writing for Seventh Street Alchemy from Writing Still, Weaver Press, Harare 2003
Brian Chikwava from Zimbabwe won the prize last year

The prize, which is in its sixth year, is awarded to a short story written by an African writer published in English, whether in Africa or elsewhere.

On announcing the shortlist Chairman of the Judges Baroness Lola Young described the entries as a "rich mixture", saying they were "a really good read!"

The winner of the Caine Prize 2005 will be announced on Monday 4 July.

Read the five extracts below and then choose your favourite using the vote on the right hand side of this page.

Doreen Baingana (Uganda) for Tropical Fish

Doreen Baingana (Uganda)
Doreen's writing addresses issues of class, religion and cultural identity
Peter always plopped down heavily on top of me after he came, breathing short and fast, as if he had just swum across Lake Victoria.

My worry that he was dying was quickly dispelled by his deep snores, moments after he rolled off me. I was left wondering exactly what I was doing there, in the middle of the night, next to a snoring white man.

And why was it that men fell asleep so easily, so deeply, after huffing and puffing over you?

There I was, awake, alone with my thoughts, loud-in-my-head and never ending, like a ghost train.

Sex was like school, something I just did. I mean, of course I wanted to.

I took myself there, no-one forced me.

Tropical Fish is from the African American Review, volume 37, number 4, 2003.

Ike Okonta (Nigeria) for Tindi in the Land of the Dead

Ike Okonta (Nigeria)
Ike is described as passionate about people and politics
He reached the plagued village in the evening just as the light was beginning to fail.

The motorcyclist who had brought him from A dropped him off on the outskirts, refusing to go any farther.

He had completed his journey on foot, his overnight bag slung over his shoulder, whistling a Jazz tune to himself as he walked.

The first house he saw - a tiny hut, actually - was tucked away on the edge of the forest and you had to look really hard to see it was there.

The hut was partly obscured by a big Iroko tree whose leafy lower branches formed an awning of sorts over the doorway.

He went to the door and knocked.

Tindi in the Land of the Dead is from Humanitas, George Bell Institute, Queen's College, Birmingham, volume 2, number 1, October 2000.

Jamal Mahjoub (Sudan) for The Obituary Tango

Jamal Mahjoub (Sudan)
Jamal was born in London, grew up in Khartoum, Sudan and now lives in Barcelona
Wait a minute, let me finish what I was saying before I lose track of my thoughts.

No, it has nothing to do with growing old.

Salwa said the same thing to me years ago, when the children were barely walking and she was suffering the way all women suffer when they start to lose their looks: 'You never finish your sentences. You never say what you set out to say.'

Of course she was right then and she would still be right now, if I had not divorced her.

I would be the first to admit it.

I blame the age we live in.

Who has time these days to finish anything, I ask you?

The Obituary Tango is from Wasafiri, issue 42, summer 2004.

Muthal Naidoo (South Africa) for Jail Birds

Muthal Naidoo (South Africa)
Muthal has previously taught, acted, directed and written plays
Gavaza is busy mopping and cleaning the cell for a new prisoner, one of these political detainees.

They don't put them in with the others.

They keep them by themselves.

Each one gets a cell, like in a hotel.

Since they released Mandela in February, the jail is filling up with teachers and students.

They have nothing to do, so they just make trouble.

Jail Birds is from Botsotso, Botsotso Publishing, 2004.

Segun Afolabi (Nigeria) for Monday Morning

Segun Afolabi (Nigeria)
Segun currently lives in London and has recently completed a novel, Goodbye Lucille
'I want to piss,' the boy said in their language.

he held his mother's hand as they walked, but his feet skipped to and fro.

The mother scanned the area, but she could not find a place for her son; there were too many people beside the trees, talking, laughing.

'Take the boy to the edge of the water so he can piss,' she said to her husband.

The boy and his father hurried towards the lake.

They did not notice how people looked at them with their mouths turned down.

Sour.

The eyes narrowed to slits.

Monday Morning is from Wasafiri, issue 41, spring 2004.


Which short-listed candidate do you think might win, and why? Send us your comments using the form below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Doreen (Uganda) exemplifies the deep-rooted African problem of abusive relationships that our women find themselves in but cannot end due to cultural sanctions.
Ochieng-ojiamboh, Entebbe, Uganda

Segun Afolabi tells of cultural woes we fail to pass in foreign soil.
Aiso Omburo, Durham, US

The story dissects a domestic crisis that men have long ignored
Sangwani, Nottingham

Doreen Baingana's (Uganda) is the best. The story dissects a domestic crisis that men have long ignored, selfishly, with the consequence weighing heavily on the woman. Not being feminist here, it's just the truth.
Sangwani Nkhwazi, Nottingham, UK

Tropical Fish exhumes so much sincerity about the choices we make. Every one of us is responsible for our actions and Inaction also. Pleasures of a moment sometimes fade like the morning dew.
Akin, Dallas Texas

Doreen Baingana's (Uganda) description for Tropical Fish is a unique form of every day life practice in our planet that humans and animals do to succeed in getting there where they want to be in life. Mrs Baingana used sex to lead us into a scientific question to put out our hypothesis in form of research.
Yemane Araya, Dallas, TX, USA

Monday Morning reminds me about growing in an African village. This short story tells about the real world that we live in African areas. Congratulation to Monday Morning for being visionary.
Kofua Kulah, Providence, RI

I believe Jamal Mahjoub is the best person to receive this award. The few clips from his work makes me want to read more of his works. His diction is captivating.
Joseph, Liberian in the USA

The language of The Obituary Tango captivates and effortlessly draws the reader into the current of the story, even before he/she realises his/her involvement.
Gbenga Ibileye, Saint Louis, Senegal

He dwells on a theme with universal human appeal
Bernard Oniwe, Lewistown

Jamal Mahjoub's The Obituary Tango is it. He dwells on a theme with universal human appeal. He digs deep and explore into human mind and its struggle to deal with unavoidable decline that unfolds with time. His language is plain and simple. And that is how attitude to life should be.
Bernard Oniwe, Lewistown, Pennsylvania, USA

The opening of Ike Okonta's Land of the Dead intrigued me the most. From the sample it feels as if he is breathing humanity into a topic which most of the world would rather forget.
CMP, Trenton, USA

Tindi in the Land of the Dead. Ike invokes a journey fraught with uncertainties and expectations like everything else in life, one begs to ask the question, what are the possible outcomes?
Aleks Takyi, Omaha, Nebraska, USA

I am excited to get to know Salwa more intimately and find out what her husband has yet to finish. Great excerpt.
R Adede, NYC (Kenya)

Jamal Mahjoub (Sudan) for The Obituary Tango. The excerpt immediately made me begin to laugh at myself. The character's honest way of looking at his life as it is now, and as it was then is clear, he does not take personal blame and is not apologetic, he simply states it as it is.
Patricia Palale, Lusaka, Zambia

Tropical Fish looks like a vividly narrated story. The descriptions are fresh and powerful, easily lending themselves to a complete understanding of the writer's intentions. The story of course, touches on something that women and men go through on a daily basis. Coming from a woman, it will be interesting how the writer handles her lead character.
Muyiwa Ojo, Ibadan, Nigeria

Jamal Mahjoub (Sudan) for The Obituary Tango - in that excerpt, the reader is introduced to more than one issue that affects everybody worldwide, and yet Mahjoub still manages to give it an ethnic flavour. It definitely captures the reader's senses to read more!
Wendy, Oregon, USA/Zimbabwe

I really like Segun Afolabe's story. It is very interesting. I really want to know how this boy and his parents end up. And I think Segun will win the because of the his caption 'I want to piss'. I wish him good luck in his endeavours.
Olymatou Cox, Banjul, The Gambia

Jamal Mahjoub (Sudan) has portrayed the current lives that we live in very precisely. We live in a fast-paced world, who has the time to do what we want? For goodness-sakes we don't even get enough time to spend with our families.
Vijayesh Nair, Toronto, Canada

Jamal Mahjoub (Sudan) for The Obituary Tango. I was torn between Doreen Baingana's excerpt from Tropical Fish and Jamal Mahjoub's. Both are thought-provoking pieces. But, Mahjoub's twin themes of growing old and the age we live in have tremendous appeal.
Gamal Nkrumah, Cairo, Egypt

Tropical Fish sounds really great! The idea of addressing culture and identity has so much history.
Mansur, London

I nominate Doreen Baingana (Uganda) for Tropical Fish because of the way she captivates her readers. I guess that this except was just a tip of the iceberg.
Kingsley Chimaobi Iheanacho, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Doreen Baingana's descriptive ideologies will leave you longing for more.
Oliver Mtyambizi, Cardiff, UK

I felt that Ike Okonta's excerpt of Tindi in the Land of the Dead leaves the reader in suspense, wanting to find out what will happen next. He provides a good opening into the rest of the story.
Maira Nigam, Stamford, Connecticut, USA

Doreen Baingana (Uganda) for Tropical Fish. It is crystal clear from her outline that we virtually labour for everything that we do, be it for pleasure or gain. Nothing good comes easy. Even sex takes some energy of you.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

Jamal Mahjoub (Sudan) for The Obituary Tango. His excerpt exudes the sentiments of a writer who is unafraid to turn himself inside out, and view things with fresh eye balls, and I'm sure the rest of his story does the same.
VMK, Nairobi, Kenya

Jamal Mahjoub skilfully catches the rhythm of the craze of life in our age. In a paragraph.
Marlon Zakeyo, Harare, Zimbabwe

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VOTE RESULTS
Tropical Fish
47%
Tindi in the Land of the Dead
18%
The Obituary Tango
13%
Jail Birds
6%
Monday Morning
16%
339 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Vote now closed


SEE ALSO
Zimbabwean writer is Caine winner
20 Jul 04 |  Entertainment

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