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The Gonjon Pin and Other Stories : The Caine Prize for African Writing 2014

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The Caine Prize for African Writing is Africa's leading literary prize. For fifteen years it has supported and promoted contemporary African writing. Keeping true to its motto, "Africa will always bring something new," the prize has helped launch the literary careers of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Segun Afolabi, Leila Aboulela, Brian Chikwava, EC Osondu Henrietta Rose-Innes, The Caine Prize for African Writing is Africa's leading literary prize. For fifteen years it has supported and promoted contemporary African writing. Keeping true to its motto, "Africa will always bring something new," the prize has helped launch the literary careers of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Segun Afolabi, Leila Aboulela, Brian Chikwava, EC Osondu Henrietta Rose-Innes, Binyavanga Wainaina, and many others. The 2014 collection includes the five shortlisted stories and the stories written at the Caine Prize Writers' Workshop. It will be published to coincide with the announcement of the award in July 2014.


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The Caine Prize for African Writing is Africa's leading literary prize. For fifteen years it has supported and promoted contemporary African writing. Keeping true to its motto, "Africa will always bring something new," the prize has helped launch the literary careers of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Segun Afolabi, Leila Aboulela, Brian Chikwava, EC Osondu Henrietta Rose-Innes, The Caine Prize for African Writing is Africa's leading literary prize. For fifteen years it has supported and promoted contemporary African writing. Keeping true to its motto, "Africa will always bring something new," the prize has helped launch the literary careers of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Segun Afolabi, Leila Aboulela, Brian Chikwava, EC Osondu Henrietta Rose-Innes, Binyavanga Wainaina, and many others. The 2014 collection includes the five shortlisted stories and the stories written at the Caine Prize Writers' Workshop. It will be published to coincide with the announcement of the award in July 2014.

30 review for The Gonjon Pin and Other Stories : The Caine Prize for African Writing 2014

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maya

    (view spoiler)[ Phosphorescence – a woman and her granddaughter (just attempted suicide) take a last swim on a beach that’s being demolished for the construction of new buildings. In the end it’s the granddaughter that finds a way out – 3.5*; South Africa Chicken – a young woman struggles on her own after her rich family refuses to support her because she went to university to study a discipline of her choice. Donates her eggs – 3*; Ghana The Intervention – A young poet spends a night with his frie (view spoiler)[ Phosphorescence – a woman and her granddaughter (just attempted suicide) take a last swim on a beach that’s being demolished for the construction of new buildings. In the end it’s the granddaughter that finds a way out – 3.5*; South Africa Chicken – a young woman struggles on her own after her rich family refuses to support her because she went to university to study a discipline of her choice. Donates her eggs – 3*; Ghana The Intervention – A young poet spends a night with his friend and other people in a flat in the UK from his country watching the news of the latest election where the party in power wins again. At the gathering a young girl complains that her boyfriend of many years doesn’t want to marry her but is instead taken by his new life and is cheating. Good point on the life of immigrants fighting to live between the traditions of their own country and the demands of the foreign country. 4*; Zimbabwe The Gorilla’s Apprentice – 18 yo kid visits an old gorilla in the zoo while his family crumbles and the country is overtaken by violence. Meets a man who talks to the gorilla. The man turns out to be hiding in Kenya – originally from Uganda he has erased his identity. In the end the man poisons the gorilla who kills him. Did he fear the photo of him the kid took would become public? 4*; Kenya. My Father’s Head – a woman cannot remember how her dead father’s head looked. She only remembers his face. When she finally summons him back she does not know what to do with him. 4*; Kenya “You think that your people belong to you, that they will al- ways have a place for you in their minds and their hearts. You think that your people will always look forward to your return. Maybe the day you go back home to your people you will have to sit in a wicker chair on the veranda and smoke alone because, although they may have wanted to have you back, no one really meant for you to stay.” --- The Lifebloom Gift – When touching people Ted Lifebloom makes them see what live is. But it only works on people with special physical features and requires pressing a mole behind the knee. Narrator tries to spread Ted’s gift after Ted disappears which of course causes him serious trouble. 4* The Gonjon Pin – a young man’s friend works on a machine that will predict the numbers in the lottery and other more important future events. 3.5*; Ghana As a Woolf Sweating Your Mother’s Body – a foot fetishist (son a famous artist) holds people prisoners in his home. 3* Pam Pam – takes place in a refugee camp where people live for years. Pam Pam doesn’t talk to anyone and is presumed to practice magic. He is killed. 3*; Zimbabwe Lily in the Moonlight – a poet under a pen name (son of a dictator) falls in love with a prostitute whose father was killed by the same dictator. Upon finding out girl poisons her lover and herself. Not original but I enjoyed a lot. 4*; Nigeria Running – a woman in her early 40s cannot change anything in her life; is scared of everything that may happen to her. Really good; 4.5* The Murder of Ernestine Masilo – a story about severe abuse in a family and the carelessess of the authorities; 3*; Zimbabwe All the Parts of Mi – very interesting story travelling from Zimbabwe to China and a guerilla female leader who has to leave her daughter for adoption because she can only keep one child; How love made her weak. Blood Work – a female student abroad works illegally taking care of old people; reveals her identity to the woman she’s working for, shows her love while her own family wants to get rid of her. A little naïve but nice.3* The Sonneteer – did not finish, the writing put me off; a female journalist visits her ex-lover – an ex writer. Eko Hotel – a prostitute and a thief are in search of love and attempt a relationship but both are tangled in too many lies for something real to happen; enjoyed; 4* Music from a Farther Room - an old woman shares her house with her grandson’s wife and kid; remembers the past while the wife struggles with her life as a mother; 3.5* (hide spoiler)] Authors to follow: Elnathan John; Abdul Adan; Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

  2. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Exceptional story after story

  3. 4 out of 5

    Negasi

    Disappointing, really a collection of works by authors who happened to be African rather than African authors writing from an African experience. Many stories are very well written and engrossing (I especially liked "The Gonjon Pin"). But all writers here are clearly immersed in European ideals of modern literature - such as a common theme of existentialistic alienation, but fail to capture African ideals like living in spirit realms and valuing the traditions of the ancestors. So as a whole the Disappointing, really a collection of works by authors who happened to be African rather than African authors writing from an African experience. Many stories are very well written and engrossing (I especially liked "The Gonjon Pin"). But all writers here are clearly immersed in European ideals of modern literature - such as a common theme of existentialistic alienation, but fail to capture African ideals like living in spirit realms and valuing the traditions of the ancestors. So as a whole the body of work possesses a dark gloomy quality, not positive or uplifting. I think that could be interpreted as a victory of colonialism. And two of the authors were white women who were included because they happen to grow up on the African continent. So it may be that the word African in the title should be in quotes.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nina Chachu

    As with all collections of short stories, in my view, there are some that are better than others. And this collection is no exception. Of the Caine Prize shortlisted stories, I actually liked Billy Kahora's "The gorilla's apprentice" the best. Of the other stories, Elnathan John's "Running" and Isabella Matambanadzo's "All the parts of Mi" were most striking in my opinion, even though some might say a little predictable. As with all collections of short stories, in my view, there are some that are better than others. And this collection is no exception. Of the Caine Prize shortlisted stories, I actually liked Billy Kahora's "The gorilla's apprentice" the best. Of the other stories, Elnathan John's "Running" and Isabella Matambanadzo's "All the parts of Mi" were most striking in my opinion, even though some might say a little predictable.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Natsomji

    As with any short story collection, there are some good stories and some I liked less. I really enjoyed Lily in the Moonlight and The Sonneteer. I liked The Gorilla's Apprentice and The Murder of Ernestine Masilo too. But overall I think it was so lovely to read a collection of stories by African authors who are clearly so talented! As with any short story collection, there are some good stories and some I liked less. I really enjoyed Lily in the Moonlight and The Sonneteer. I liked The Gorilla's Apprentice and The Murder of Ernestine Masilo too. But overall I think it was so lovely to read a collection of stories by African authors who are clearly so talented!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Ondrus

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I would suggest the story by Violet- It was about domestic violence and apparently her cousin who was murdered by her husband. Her cousin thought she would be killed and went procatively to the police, citing the law to protect her, but the police did not take her case as urgent. I think this story would be good in a training seminar.

  7. 5 out of 5

    George

    I liked it. Not everything resonated (about 50/50), but the stories that did, did so quite a bit -- the uniqueness of those stories alone is why I'm giving the whole book 4 *s. This book caused me to look for work from more African writers. My favourite literary purchase of the year. I liked it. Not everything resonated (about 50/50), but the stories that did, did so quite a bit -- the uniqueness of those stories alone is why I'm giving the whole book 4 *s. This book caused me to look for work from more African writers. My favourite literary purchase of the year.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Salome Ndoro

    I was not impressed with the quality of writing compared to that of the previous editions of the Caine Prize Books.

  9. 4 out of 5

    bernard's

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andi

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nate H

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stella

  13. 5 out of 5

    Donna

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez

  15. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

  16. 5 out of 5

    Traa

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ma.Chah.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Zakiya

  19. 4 out of 5

    George

  20. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Amilia

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kofi Dzogbewu

  22. 4 out of 5

    George

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heikki

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adrianee

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steph

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karina Szczurek

  27. 5 out of 5

    Arja Salafranca

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mercy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aruna

  30. 4 out of 5

    The Liberal

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