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.”
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