Yesterday, at the awards dinner for the twentieth edition of the Caine Prize, acclaimed Nigerian writer, Lesley Nneka Arimah won the 2019 Caine Prize for her short story, Skinned, published in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern‘s Issue 53.
Skinned, which envisions a society in which young girls are ceremonially ‘uncovered’ and must marry in order to regain the right to be clothed, was praised by the judging panel for its unique retake of women's struggle for inclusion in a society regulated by rituals.
About the book:
"It tells the story of Ejem, a young woman uncovered at the age of fifteen yet ‘unclaimed’ in adulthood, and her attempts to negotiate a rigidly stratified society following the breakdown of a protective friendship with the married Chidinma.
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."
She has been shortlisted for the Caine Prize twice: in 2016, for What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky; and in 2017 for Who Will Greet You at Home?. Her short stories have also received the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and an O. Henry Prize.
Winning the Caine Prize comes with a £10,000 cash gift, and Lesley is only the sixth Nigerian to win the prize, after Tope Folarin (2013), Rotimi Babatunde (2012), EC Osondu (2009), Segun Afolabi (2005), and Helon Habila (2001).
Skinned is available to read now on the Caine Prize website.