The shortlist has been announced for the seventh annual Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
The prize is awarded annually to ‘the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English’. Regional winners receive £2,500 each (about R41,000) and the overall winner receives £5,000. Translated entries are eligible, as are stories written in Bengali, Chinese, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan and Tamil.
The judging panel for this year’s award, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth, is Damon Galgut (Africa), Sunila Galappatti (Asia), Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm (Canada and Europe), Mark McWatt (Caribbean) and Paula Morris (Pacific).
Novelist and short story writer Sarah Hall, this year’s chair of judges, says of the shortlist: ‘The versatility and power of the short story is abundantly clear in this shortlist. With such a range of subject, style, language and imagination, it is clear what a culturally important and relevant form it is, facilitating many different creative approaches, many voices and versions of life.
‘With a panel of judges also spanning the globe there was a sense of depth and breadth to the selection process, and each commonwealth region showcases the very best of its traditions, adaptations, and contemporary approaches.
‘This is such a great, unique prize, one that seeks to uphold both literary community and particularity, crossing borders with the ambition of collating our common and unique stories. It is an enormous pleasure, and illuminating, to have been part of the reading process.’
African shortlistees this year hail from Uganda (Harriet Anena), South Africa (Fred Khumalo and Michelle Sacks), Ghana (Cheryl Ntumy) and Nigeria (Efua Traoré and Obi Umeozor).
2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist
(in alphabetical order)
- ‘Dancing with Ma’, Harriet Anena (Uganda)
- ‘Matalasi’, Jenny Bennett-Tuionetoa (Samoa)
- ‘An Elephant in Kingston’, Marcus Bird (Jamaica)
- ‘Tahiti’, Brendan Bowles (Canada)
- ‘Ghillie’s Mum’, Lynda Clark (United Kingdom)
- ‘Goat’, Sally Craythorne (United Kingdom)
- ‘The Divine Pregnancy in a Twelve-Year-Old Woman’, Sagnik Datta (India)
- ‘Soundtracker’, Christopher Evans (Canada)
- ‘Passage’, Kevin Hosein (Trinidad and Tobago)
- ‘Jyamitik Zadukor (The Geometric Wizard)’ by Imran Khan (Bangladesh), translated by Arunava Sinha
- ‘Talk of The Town’, Fred Khumalo (South Africa)
- ‘Night Fishing’, Karen Kwek (Singapore)
- ‘Nobody’s Wife’, Chris Mansell (Australia)
- ‘The Boss’, Breanne Mc Ivor (Trinidad and Tobago)
- ‘Holding On, Letting Go’, Sandra Norsen (Australia)
- ‘Empathy’, Cheryl Ntumy (Ghana)
- ‘A Girl Called Wednesday’, Kritika Pandey (India)
- ‘Chicken Boy’, Lynne Robertson (New Zealand)
- ‘Hitler Hates You’, Michelle Sacks (South Africa)
- ‘After the Fall’, James Smart (United Kingdom)
- ‘Son Son’s Birthday’, Sharma Taylor (Jamaica)
- ‘Berlin Lends a Hand’, Jonathan Tel (United Kingdom)
- ‘True Happiness’, Efua Traoré (Nigeria)
- ‘Juju’, Obi Umeozor (Nigeria)
Previous winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize: Africa Region are Jekwu Anyaegbuna (2012), Julian Jackson (2013), Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (2014), Lesley Nneka Arimah (2015), Faraaz Mahomed (2016), and Akwaeke Emezi (2017). Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is the only African to have won the overall prize.
Arimah’s debut book, the short story collection What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, was published in 2017 to widespread acclaim, and she is currently shortlisted for the 9mobile Prize for Literature (formerly the Etisalat Prize for Literature). Makumbi’s debut novel Kintu, meanwhile, recently reached an international audience with United States and United Kingdom editions, and won the prestigious 2018 Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction.