Known as the African Booker, the Caine Prize is Africaâ€™s greatest award and for Kenaniâ€™s story, Love on Trial, to be among the five stories to make it into the shortlist is no mean achievement for the writer, who has eked for himself as one of Africaâ€™s notable contemporary writers.
The winner goes away with Â£10,000 (K2 610 000) and will be given the opportunity of taking up a monthâ€™s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. The winner will also be invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2012 and events at the Museum of African Art in New York in November 2012.
According to the Caine website, the story was selected from 122 entries from 14 African countries. Other nominees are Nigerian Rotimi Babatunde (Bombayâ€™s Republic), Kenyan Billy Kahora (Urban Zoning), Melissa Tandiwe Myambo of Zimbabwe (La Salle de DÃ©part) and South African Constance Myburgh (Hunter Emmanuel).
Kenaniâ€™s story published by eKhaya/Random House Struik is a tale of Charles, a Chancellor College law student who is caught in a homosexual act at his home village in Chipiri. Stingingly humorous yet deeply touching, the story leaves you asking yourself: is it necessary to prosecute homosexuals?
In the words of chair for the judges to the awards Bernadine Evaristo, Kenaniâ€™s story is brave.
â€œWeâ€™ve chosen a bravely provocative homosexual story set in Malawi; a Nigerian soldier fighting in the Burma Campaign of WW2; a hardboiled noir tale involving a disembodied leg; a drunk young Kenyan who outwits his irate employers; and the tension between Senegalese siblings over migration and family responsibility,â€ said the award winning British writer.