July 12 (GIN)–Zimbabwean writer Elizabeth Zandile Tshele, better known as NoViolet Bulawayo, is the recipient of this year’s Caine Prize for African Writing, considered Africa’s leading literary award.
She won the award for her story “Hitting Budapest,” about six hungry children from a slum who steal guavas from an upscale suburb.
Speaking to the BBC, NoViolet said, “I try to write stories that don’t normally get told.” Bulawayo explained that she was “marrying the personal with the imaginary.”
“Some of these incidents in ‘Hitting Budapest’ are taken from my own life–the stealing of guavas to begin with, growing up less privileged and having these dreams,” she said.
Among the other writers on the shortlist were Beatrice Lamwaka from Uganda for her story “Butterfly Dreams,” Tim Keegan (South Africa) for “What Molly Knew,” Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana) for “In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata” and David Medalie (South Africa) for “The Mistress’s Dog.”
Award-winning author and Chair of Judges, Hisham Matar said, “The language of ‘Hitting Budapest’ crackles. Here, we encounter Darling, Bastard, Chipo, Godknows, Stina and Sbho, a gang reminiscent of ‘Clockwork Orange.’ But these are children, poor and violated and hungry. This is a story with moral power and weight; it has the artistry to refrain from moral commentary. NoViolet Bulawayo is a writer who takes delight in language.”
Bulawayo is a Truman Capote Fellow and Lecturer of English at Cornell University in New York.