Cat Hellisen wins 2015 Short Story Day Africa Prize

The winner of the 2015 Short Story Day Africa Prize for Short Fiction has been announced at the Ake Arts & Book Festival in Nigeria by Prize judge Abubakar Adam Ibrahim.

All twenty-one stories on the longlist this year were blind-judged by the Prize’s esteemed judging panel – which consisted of Kenyan Billy Kahora and South African Mary Watson, alongside Ibrahim. The twenty-one stories were selected out of more than 450 entries, after having been blind-read and compiled by SSDA’s continent-wide group of readers.

In the end, it was South African author Cat Hellisen who won over the panel with her story “The Worme Bridge”. Hellisen wins R10 000 as part of the prize.

Of the story the judges said: "'The Worme Bridge' stood out for us with its brave story and clear, distinctive voice; it's a wonderfully dark exploration of the water theme. The story works effortlessly to construct an other kind of reality while grounding itself in the real world. The writing is compelling: the reader is drawn into this family and the strangeness that overtakes them. We found this a powerful piece of writing that continues to haunt the reader afterwards.”

Second place went to Alex Latimer for “A Fierce Symmetry”, which “wonderfully observes the theme of the competition, has an admirably sparse style, interesting content and a strong voice”; while third went to Mark Winkler for “Ink”, which was “imaginative and evocative”, and reveals its “unfamiliar world in a vivid yet delicate way.” Latimer and Winkler win R2 000 and R1 000, respectively.

A special mention was reserved for Fred Khumalo’s story “Water No Get Enemy”.

The winning stories, along with the rest of the 2015 longlist, will be compiled in Water: New Short Fiction from Africa, edited by Nick Mulgrew and Karina Szczurek. The collection features a number of Caine Prize-winning and –nominated authors, including Efemia Chela and Pede Hollist, as well as a host of exciting emerging writers and established favourites from throughout the African continent and diaspora.

The cash prizes for the Short Story Day Africa Prize for Short Fiction are generously sponsored by Worldreader, Books Live, ANT ProHelvetia and All About Writing.