Nigerian-British author, Irenosen Okojie, has been awarded the winner of the 2020 AKO Caine Prize for African, for her story on the impersonation of Jamaican model, Grace Jones.
Okojie’s short story ‘Grace Jones’ received great recommendations from the judges. It was thus awarded the winner of the award from 5 regional winners shortlisted in May.
— The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing (@CainePrize) July 27, 2020
The London-based novelist’s short story follows the story of Sidra, a young Martinican woman in London, who is wracked with guilt after her whole family dies in a fire that destroys their flat.
The aggrieved lady, in her later life, finds relief working as a celebrity impersonator, which sees her hide under the mask of Jones while committing “dreadful acts.”
“What I want people to take away from it is not just the pain of tragedy, it’s how we reconfigure ourselves past it,” the BBC quoted Okojie as saying while speaking on her prize.
“I’m predominantly passionate about writing about black women, and for me, it doesn’t just mean black women from Nigeria. I think blackness is fascinating, especially cross-culturally.
“Human beings are so fascinating – we cope with things in all sorts of weird and interesting ways. So I wanted to capture a character like that.
“The psychology of it, you know the idea of hiding behind another character and, you know, how do we cope with the traumas that affect us.”
Reacting to the announcement, Irenosen Okojie said, “Beyond delighted & overwhelmed that my story Grace Jones has won the 2020 @CainePrize Mind-blowing. Massive thanks to the judges & the prize for this honour. Big love to @EliseDillsworth @SharLovegrove @dialoguebooks for their unwavering belief in my voice.”
Beyond delighted & overwhelmed that my story Grace Jones has won the 2020 @CainePrize Mind blowing. Massive thanks to the judges & the prize for this honour. Big love to @EliseDillsworth @SharLovegrove @dialoguebooks for their unwavering belief in my voice. https://t.co/7UCk8INdS5
— Irenosen Okojie (@IrenosenOkojie) July 27, 2020
The 2019 edition was won by Lesley Nneka Arimah, another Nigerian author.