‘It Is So Important Now that Africans Own Their Own Narrative’: Irenosen Okojie Wins the 2020 Caine Prize for African Writing

By Jennifer Malec for The Johannesburg Review of Books

Irenosen Okojie has won the AKO Caine Prize for African writing, for her story ‘Grace Jones’.

Announcing the award, chair of judges Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp said:

“‘Grace Jones’ is a radical story that plays with logic, time and place. It defies convention as it unfolds a narrative that is both multilayered and multidimensional. It is risky, dazzling, imaginative and bold. It is intense and full of stunning prose. It is also a story that reflects African consciousness in the way it so seamlessly shifts dimensions, and it is a story that demonstrates extraordinary imagination. Most of all it is world-class writing, by an African writer.

‘At the heart of this story is its main protagonist, a young woman from Martinique living in London, who is moonlighting as a celebrity impersonator; her journey moves exquisitely and seamlessly between the exploration of the universal experiences of unspeakable suffering, pleasure and escape, and the particular experience of being Black and African in a global city such as London.

‘In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement—which has prompted deeply powerful questions about race, justice and equality in the world today—this story offers a salient exploration of what it can mean to embody and perform Blackness in the world. This is a story of tremendously delicate power and beauty, and one in which we recognise the tradition of African storytelling and imagination at its finest.”


Read more at:

The Johannesburg Review of Books


The Johannesburg Review of Books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s