Grace Jones, the 2020 AKO Caine Prize-winning short story by Nigerian writer, Irenosen Okojie, has been translated to Portuguese, Shona and Yoruba. Published in her short story collection Nudibranch (2019) by Dialogue Books, Grace Jones won the ₤10000 prize, which due to COVID-19 restrictions was announced in a documentary film by the chair of the prize juggling panel, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE. AKO Caine Prize has awarded this cash award to over twenty-one African writers since it was founded in 2000.
Grace Jones tells the story of Sidra, a woman whose life is consumed with guilt after she loses her entire family in a fire at thirteen. As an adult, she is employed as an impersonator of the famous Jamaican actress, singer and model, Grace Jones. In this story about experience of a Black woman in contemporary British society, Okojie takes readers through a radical narrative on Sidra’s struggle with loss, fractured identity and bereavement. Kenneth Tharp described the short story as a “world-class fiction from an African writer”.
This translation project is the first of its kind for AKO Caine Prize. Translator and interpreter, Sandra Tamale, translated the short story into Portuguese. Zimbabwean novelist and author of The Hairdresser of Harare, Tendai Huchu, did the Shona translation, while linguist and academic, Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, translated the short story into Yoruba, in partnership with The British Library. The short story can be read in English, and the translations are available in Yoruba, Shona and Portuguese.