Africa’s new literary star: 2017 Caine Prize Winner Bushra al-Fadil, 10 facts you should know

The Caine Prize is the most prestigious award in African literature and can propel the careers of those who win it and those who are shortlisted.  This year, the winner broke the mould and showed the judges are prepared to look beyond the usual parameters of literary talent to unearth Africa’s best writers.  Here are some interesting facts on this year’s winner…..

  1. Bushra al-Fadil has won the 2017 Caine Prize for African Writing, Africa’s premier literary award, for his short story entitled “The Story of the Girl Whose Birds Flew Away”.

    The Book of Khartoum: A Collection of Short Stories. The story was first published in Arabic in “The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction”.










2. The story was first published in Arabic in “The Book of Khartoum – A City in Short Fiction”. He said recently “for me to write in Arabic and to win, shows us that translation widens the horizons for authors from Arab and African countries”.


  1. Al-Fadil is 65 years old, making him the oldest writer to be shortlisted.


  1. He is Sudanese but lives in exile in Saudi Arabia, due to his involvement in political activism in his home country.


  1. He has published four collections of short stories in Arabic. His most recent collection“Above a City’s Sky” was published in 2012, for which he was awarded the al-Tayeb Salih Short Story Award. A prestigious annual award for creative writing established as a memorial for the celebrated Sudanese author Al-Tayeb Salih, who died in 2009 and whose seminal work “The Season of Migration to the North” was voted one of the best works of fiction in 2002.


  1. As a translated story, the prize money will be split – with £7,000 going to Al-Fadil and £3,000 to the translator, Max Shmookler.


  1. Al Fadil stated in an interview with Wasafari, a leading contemporary arts magazine, that he preferred the book’s title to be ‘The Girl whose Sparrows Flew Away’.


  1. This prize winning story was first written by Al Fadil in 1979.


  1. He is only the second Sudanese author to have won the Caine Prize. Leila Abou Elela won the prize in 2000. He stated “it was a pleasant surprise for me as I did not know that the previous Sudanese winner………had written her stories in English.”


  1. Bushra el-Fadil was born in the village of Araggi in the Northern State of Sudan in 1952. After completing his education, he became a lecturer in Russian literature and language at Khartoum University in Sudan.