Kenyan writer Makena Onjerika has won the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing.
She won the award for her story Fanta Blackcurrant, which was published in Wasafiri.
The story is about a young street girl called Meri, whose has only one wish: a big bottomless Fanta Blackcurrant for her to drink every day. But life deals her a rough hand and she turns to the sex trade to survive. After falling pregnant she becomes a successful thief to the anger of other local criminals who beat her up and leave her for dead.
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According to the chair of the Caine Prize judging panel, award-winning Ethiopian-American novelist and writer, Dinaw Mengestu, the story was ‘as fierce as they come’. He said:
[A] narrative forged but not defined by the streets of Nairobi, a story that stands as more than just witness. Makena Onjerika’s ‘Fanta Blackcurrant’ presides over a grammar and architecture of its own making, one that eschews any trace of sentimentality in favour of a narrative that is haunting in its humour, sorrow and intimacy.
Makena was shortlisted with other finalists, including, Nonyelum Ekwempu (Nigeria), Stacy Hardy (South Africa), Olufunke Ogundimu (Nigeria) and Wole Talabi (Nigeria).
Makena, a graduate of the MFA Creative Writing programme at New York University, has also been published in Urban Confustions and Wasifiri. She Nairobi native is currently working on a fantasy novel.