The third decade of the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing kicked off last Wednesday with a record 222 submissions from 28 countries across the Continent.
Only five stories will be chosen by the judges to constitute this year's shortlist when they meet in London at the end of April.
The panel will be chaired by Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE, a British-Nigerian, and renowned figure of the arts in the United Kingdom, based in London.
He will be joined by Kenyan blogger James Murua; Irish-Nigerian poet and playwright Gabriel Gbadamosi; South African broadcaster Audrey Brown and Ethiopian-born non-fiction editor and podcaster Ebissé Wakjira-Rouw, currently a policy advisor at the Dutch Council for Culture in the Netherlands.
The shortlisted stories, which will be announced in May, will be compiled into the official AKO Caine Prize anthology and published by New Internationalist in the UK, Interlink Publishing in the USA, and a variety of international publishers around the world.
Each writer of the same will be awarded £500, and the winner will receive a £10,000 prize.
If a work in translation is chosen as the winning story, the prize will be shared between the author and the translator.
Speaking on this year's submissions, Chair of the Prize Ellah Wakatama OBE said: "It's wonderful to see the Prize receive a burgeoning number of submissions. Authors across African countries are producing remarkable literary works, and we have a ringside seat to read all 222 of them.
She added, "To bring in our twenty-first year with an abundance of stories from so many countries is extraordinary. It will be hard for our judges to boil it down to just five shortlisted works for this year's award so I wish them good luck, and I can't wait to read their selection."
The 28 countries include Kenya, Botswana, Egypt, Mauritius and Rwanda.
The AKO Caine Prize for African Writing has been awarded annually for African creative writing for nearly 25 years.
AKO Foundation, its main sponsor, has a primary focus in the making of grants to projects which promote the arts and improve education.