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Nigerian author wins Caine Prize with 'darkly humorous' prose

By Ivana Kottasova for CNN
updated 10:38 AM EDT, Thu July 5, 2012
Rotimi Babatunde has won this year's Caine Prize
Rotimi Babatunde has won this year's Caine Prize
  • Nigeria's Rotimi Babatunde has won the 2012 Caine Prize for African Writing
  • Babatunde's story was chosen from 122 entries from 14 African countries
  • The £10,000 ($15,700) Caine prize is awarded in memory of former Booker prize chairman Sir Michael Caine

London, England (CNN) -- Nigeria's Rotimi Babatunde has won the 2012 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story Bombay's Republic.

His story follows a Nigeria soldier fighting in Burma campaign of World War II and returning home as a veteran with a strong sense of new opportunities.

More: Young writers start new chapter in Nigeria's literary history

Speaking at the celebratory dinner in Oxford on Monday evening, Bernardine Evaristo, the chair of the judges, described Babatunde's work as "ambitious, darkly humorous and in soaring, scorching prose exposes the exploitative nature of the colonial project and the psychology of Independence."

An upbringing of discovery

Rotimi Babatunde's fiction and poems have been published in Africa, Europe and America. He is a winner of the Meridian Tragic Love Story Competition and was awarded the Cyprian Ekwensi Prize for Short Stories by the Abuja Writers Forum.

Discovering an unknown family

Read the Caine Prize winning story here

His plays have been staged and presented by institutions which include Halcyon Theatre, Chicago; the Swedish National Touring Theatre; the Royal Court Theatre in London.

He is currently taking part in a collaboratively produced piece at the Royal Court and the Young Vic as part of World Stages for a World City.

More: Voices from afar: Zimbabwe's writers connected to their country

Babatunde's story was chosen from 122 entries from 14 African countries. Evaristo has described the entries as "truly diverse fiction from a truly diverse continent." He said the prize shortlist reflected "the range of African fiction beyond the more stereotypical narratives."

Other shortlisted works included a tale of a homosexual man in Malawi or a story describing the tension between Senegalese siblings over migration and family responsibility."

More: NoViolet Bulawayo, the 2011 Caine Prize winner

The £10,000 ($15,700) Caine prize is awarded in memory of former Booker prize chairman Sir Michael Caine, to promote African writing in English and celebrate its diversity, largely unknown of by a wider international audience.

Established in 2000, the prize became an indicator of the next up and coming African authors, as shortlisted authors often enjoy a boost in their popularity and number of readers.

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