Wonderful news: Billy Kahora is a finalist for the Caine Prize for African Writing. Billy is the managing editor of Kwani?, which is where I worked with him (I wrote a bit about what it was like in the magazine that published last year's Caine Prize winner). In the above photo, we're at Nairobi Java House, and he's wearing a shirt that reads: "It's not that I forget... it's that I just don't care!" Rarely have I seen a slogan so perfectly suit a personality: Billy has little patience for nonsense, preferring to focus his incredibly intelligent mind and bemused humor on fiction. He is an excellent reader and one of the hardest-working writers I know. Billy's nominated for "Urban Zoning," a story published in McSweeney's. Here is the full list of finalists, culled from 122 entries from (only!) 14 countries, with links to download the stories (PDF):
- Rotimi Babatunde (Nigeria): 'Bombay's Republic' from 'Mirabilia Review'
- Billy Kahora (Kenya): 'Urban Zoning' from 'McSweeney's'
- Stanley Kenani (Malawi): 'Love on Trial' from 'For Honour and Other Stories' published by eKhaya/Random House Struik
- Melissa Tandiwe Myambo (Zimbabwe): 'La Salle de Départ' from 'Prick of the Spindle'
- Constance Myburgh (South Africa): 'Hunter Emmanuel' from 'Jungle Jim'
The winner will be announced on 2 July and receive a £10,000 prize. The Caine Prize has seen some change in leadership recently: Nigerian novelist Ben Okri was announced last week as its new vice president and Lizzy Attree is in her first year as administrator.
Kwani? itself owes something to the Caine Prize: it was founded in the wake of Binyavanga Wainana's win in 2002. Billy Kahora is the author of The True Story of David Munyakei, and his writing has appeared in Granta, Chimurenga and Vanity Fair. He is a judge for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and received his M.Sc. in creative writing from the University of Edinburgh. Billy is a past resident of the University of Iowa's amazing International Writing Program. His novel-in-process is on Juba, South Sudan.