Third Time’s The Charm For Lesley Nneka, Winner of 2019 Caine Prize

Article by Mari
Posted: July 10, 2019

Lesley Nneka Arimah has won the 2019 Caine Prize for African Literature for her short story ‘Skinned’ which was published in the 53rd issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern.

This is the 20th edition of the Caine Prize and Nneka’s third shortlisting. The Nigerian writer has also won other awards. She has also won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and O. Henry Prize. Her debut book published in 2017, What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky, won the Kirkus Prize. It also got her picked as one of the US National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 and the Italian Bridge Book Award 2018. It had also previously been shortlisted for the Sh1.2 million prize in 2016, for the title story of her collection, and in 2017, for “Who Will Greet You at Home?” She is the sixth Nigerian to win the prize.

Skinned is a story about a society where young girls as ceremonially uncovered and must marry in order to regain the right to be clothed. The story focuses on Ejem, a fifteen year old girl who has been uncovered but is yet unclaimed in adulthood. The press release for the story goes on further to describe it “With a wit, prescience, and a wicked imagination, “Skinned” is a bold and unsettling tale of bodily autonomy and womanhood, and the fault lines along which solidarities are formed and broken.”

Nneka was born in the Uk and grew up in Nigeria. She currently lives in Las Vegas.


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