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The Caine Prize Lecture: Bushra al-Fadil

The Caine Prize Lecture

dateFebruary 28, 2018 timeWednesday, 6:15pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • Institute of African Studies
  • Georgetown University’s Department of English and Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice
  • Free and open to the public
  • No registration necessary
  • First come, first seated

The Caine Prize for African Writing is a literature prize awarded to an African writer of a short story published in English. The prize was launched in 2000 to encourage and highlight the richness and diversity of African writing by bringing it to a wider audience internationally. The focus on the short story reflects the contemporary development of the African story-telling tradition.

Columbia University will host the 2017 Caine Prize winner, the Sudanese writer Bushra al-Fadil. His prize-winning story, “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away,” was translated by Columbia MESAAS graduate student Max Shmookler and published in The Book of Khartoum - A City in Short Fiction (Eds. Raph Cormack & Max Shmookler. Comma Press, 2016).

“The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away” vividly describes life in a bustling market through the eyes of the narrator, who becomes entranced by a beautiful woman he sees there one day. After a series of brief encounters, tragedy unexpectedly befalls the woman and her young female companion.

Caine Prize judge Nii Ayikwei Parkes praised the story, saying, “the winning story is one that explores through metaphor and an altered, inventive mode of perception - including, for the first time in the Caine Prize, illustration - the allure of, and relentless threats to freedom. Rooted in a mix of classical traditions as well as the vernacular contexts of its location, Bushra al-Fadil's "The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away", is at once a very modern exploration of how assaulted from all sides and unsupported by those we would turn to for solace we can became mentally exiled in our own lands, edging in to a fantasy existence where we seek to cling to a sort of freedom until ultimately we slip into physical exile.”

Bushra al-Fadil is a Sudanese writer living in Saudi Arabia. His most recent collection Above a City's Sky was published in 2012, the same year Bushra won the al-Tayeb Salih Short Story Award. Bushra holds a PhD in Russian language and literature.

The event is being organized in collaboration with Georgetown University’s Department of English and Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice.

  • Speaker and Caine Prize Winner Bushra al-Fadil Writer
  • Respondent Sarah R. bin Tyeer Assistant Professor, Arabic Literature Columbia University
  • Introduction Jennifer Wenzel Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies Columbia University