caine prize shortlist

Ken Barris (South Africa) The Life of Worm, from New Writing from Africa 2009

Lily Mabura (Kenya) How Shall We Kill the Bishop? from Wasafiri No53, Spring 2008

Namwali Serpell (Zambia) Muzungu, from The Best American Short Stories 2009

Alex Smith (South Africa) Soulmates, from New Writing from Africa 2009

Olufemi Terry (Sierra Leone) Stickfighting Days, from Chimurenga vol 

The caine prize has been announced today set up in memory of michael caine of booker it awards a prize to best writing in africa this year there was over a hundred entries

last years was E C osundu from Nigeria


The queen of palmyra by minrose gwin



The Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin

Minrose Gwin is the professor of english at North Caroline ,she has publish numerous non fiction books mainly about the women’s role in the south of america and southern writing also editing the literature of the american south .she has also done a lot on the civil rights movement in the sixties .This is her debut novel and is out on harper perennial this week .she grew up in a small town in Mississippi in the sixties .so tackle some of the ground that is in the novel

The book –

the book follows florence Forrester and one summer in 1963 ,Flo ‘s home life is rocky a disappointed mother Martha  who is the towns cake lady making wonderful smelling cakes the wonderful lemon cake is her specialty .there is Flo’s bigoted father a burial insurance salesman and a racist that has rub off a little way on his daughter  , Flo escapes at her grandparent and with their servant Zenie thus named after the queen of Palmyra ,Flo spends time with zenies family then one day a catalyst arrives in the form of Eva Green a relative of Zenie ,Eva studies and is educated and works for naacp ,this causes stirrings in the town and Eva is attacked in a graveyard ,the police are unwilling to help .Flo and Eva grow close and Flo escapes the trauma of every day life with the stories of Zenie and love she gets from her .all this against major even ts in mississipi itself .

My view –

Minrose has written a truly wonderful book you can sense that Minrose  herself must have walked in Flo’s shoes at some point and have had friends from both sides of the town she grew up in  ,she is amazing with details describing Martha cooking the cakes the wonderful lemon cakes they just float of the page and left me wanting to taste this masterpiece of a cake .The violence is handle just  right not over the top but enough to make you realise how hard it was from african americans in the south in the sixties ,I think everyone should have a copy of this on their bookshelves to sit next to kill a mockingbird and why the caged bird sings ,it is that good unbelievable for a debut novel to be so complete and well written .

Links –

harpers  page

Minrose Gwin talking

April 2010


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