Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"Hunter Emmanuel" by Constance Myburgh 4 of 5 Caine Prize Stories

"Hunter Emmanuel" by Constance Myburgh (2010, 10 pages)

Blogging the Caine Year Three 2012

My Ranking of the 2012 Stories So Far

1.  "Bombay's Republic" by Rotimi Babatunde-worthy to be a winner
4.  "Hunter Emmanuel" by Contance Myburg (worse by far Caine story)

So far "Bombay's Republic" is the best by far.   

The Caine Prize is considered Africa's leading literary award.    Entry is open to anyone from an African country and the form of work is the short short.   The patrons of the prize include three African winners of the Nobel Prize for literature, Nadine Gordimer, J. M. Coetzee and Wole Soyinka.    Chinua Achebe, winner of the International Man Booker prize,  is also a patron.    The award comes with 10,000 British Pounds  and is given out annually at a celebratory event in Oxford.     The short story is seen as a continuation of the tradition of African story telling which is one of the reasons the award focuses on that genre.    The award began in 2000.   

I began blogging on the Caine Prize short listed stories in 2010.   As far as I know I was the only person to do this.  In 2011 six bloggers posted on the stories which resulted in some very good posts and conversations.   In 2011 much of the comments were about whether or not the stories were a form of what was called "African Poverty Porn".   In 2010 there were several good stories and the winner, "Stick Fighting Days" by Olufemi Terry was just wonderful.  The 2011 stories were of lower quality.   There are now 19 bloggers posting on the stories this year.

"Hunter Emmanuel" is by far the worse Caine Prize story I have read in the last three years.   There were some 120 stories submitted to the judges for consideration and if this is really one of the best,then my extreme sympathies to the judges.    In 2011 a lot of people, myself included, felt the stories were written with western readers in mind, readers who wanted to be excited by stories of corruption, brutality and poverty. Prior Caine selectees have acknowledged they were doing  this. The term used to describe such stories is "African Poverty Porn". (This is not my expression, I learned it from African based bloggers last year.)  In 2012 the judges announced that is not what they want to see this year.   I guess it slipped there mind when they short listed "Hunter Emmanuel".

I do not want to spend a lot of time on this story as it not really worthy of being included here with the, stories of the wonderful writers I have posted on.   The story centers on a "whore" (the term the author uses over and over) whose leg was cut off and thrown up in a tree.   Hunter Emmanuel  is walking through a forest scheduled to be logged and he sees a woman's leg hanging way up in a tree.    His first thought is to the body parts of the woman.  Here is some of the dialogue between Emmanuel and the woman.

Woman-"Someone cut of my leg, that's something I'd remember".
Emmanuel- "You think the police are going to solve this one.  You are a whore.  That is already bad.  But you are also a whore that is still alive.  That's worse.  If you were dead there would be more of a chance they'd give a shit".

There is a link on the Caine Prize webpage where you can read this.   I will not put it on The Reading Life.   I do not endorse this story to anyone.

There is a link to the other posts on the Caine Prize here.   If you read the posts of the others posting on the Caine stories you will find a lot of geopolitical data.  

Mel u

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, you certainly detested this story. Like you, I am still trying to find out what was in the judging panel's mind when they shortlisted this one considering the great stories that came out of the workshop. I do feel for the other writers too because they have been robed. I hope it does not win.