Blogging the Caine prize 2012: Kahora and Kenani stories

I have been reading the shortlisted stories for the 2012 Caine Prize, but I am not sure that I feel confident enough to write full reviews on each, so I chose to write a few comments – without having any of the longer posts. Plus I am also late for both discussions.

I read and re-read the stories by Billy Kahora (Urban zoning) and Stanley O Kenani (Love on trial).

The first, as the title indicates, is set in contemporary Nairobi. A big city, and the characters are very much urban people, though with some connections to rural areas. They are not poor, but rather belong to the elite. My initial reaction to the story was to be slightly confused, because I felt there were really two stories being told: one of Kandle the drunk, and the other of Kandle who is manipulating his bank employers. Yet, a re-read does make a bit more sense, even if the main character is not particularly likeable, or even sympathetic, in my opinion.  It is a complex story, and I am not sure I totally understood what was going on.

The second story takes place in Malawi, and has the stock character of the village drunk who discovers two young men engaging in a homosexual act in a local toilet. I liked the way Charles defends himself, but then he disappears from the story, which ends not unexpectedly with the village drunk getting his comeuppance.

Which of the stories did I like? I enjoyed both, though I felt that Kenani’s story seemed to be more straightforward than Kahora’s. If I were to rate them: Kahora’s story would get a 4, while Kenani’s story would get a 3.

Note: several others have blogged much more extensively than yours truly on these stories, and once I post this I will actually go and read their reviews/commentaries!  See http://zunguzungu.wordpress.com/ for more links

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