[The JRB Daily] 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist announced, including writers from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia

The shortlist for the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize has been announced. 

South African writer Alex Latimer and South Africa-based Kenyan writer Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu have both been shortlisted for the prize in the Africa region, along with Adorah Nworah (Nigeria), Erica Sugo Anyadike (Tanzania) and Mbozi Haimbe (Zambia).

Anyadike is the first Tanzanian to be shortlisted for the award.

Now in its eighth year, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded annually to ‘the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth’.

The prize received over five thousand entries this year, from fifty Commonwealth countries, and the shortlist includes two translations into English, one from Greek and one from Malay. 

This year’s shortlisted writers come from sixteen countries, including, for the first time, Tanzania, Zambia, Malaysia, Cyprus, and Barbados. The youngest author is twenty, while the eldest is eighty. 

The judges will select a winning writer from each of the five Commonwealth regions—Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific—as well as an overall winner. Regional winners receive £2,500 (about R45 700) and the overall winner receives £5,000.

Chair of the Judges, British novelist, playwright and essayist Caryl Phillips, said:

‘The vitality and importance of the short story form is abundantly clear in this impressive shortlist of stories from around the world. These authors have dared to imagine into the lives of an amazingly wide range of characters and their stories explore situations that are both regional and universal.

‘Almost as impressive as the number of entrants and the quality of the shortlist, is the amount of work that the panel of judges have invested in this process. They have read carefully, debated with great sensitivity, and been mindful of cultural traditions as they have collectively reached their decision.

‘Compared to many literary prizes, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is still young. However, with each passing year the prize gains importance within the literary world. It offers a unique opportunity to read and think across borders, and to connect imaginations from around the globe. It has been a great honour to be a part of the judging of the 2019 prize.’

Phillips is joined on the panel by a judge from each of the five Commonwealth regions: Ugandan novelist and short story writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Pakistani writer and journalist Mohammed Hanif, Barbados’s Karen Lord, British short story writer Chris Power, and New Zealander poet, playwright, fiction writer and musician Courtney Sina Meredith.

The regional winners will be announced Thursday, 9 May 2019, and will be published online by the literary magazine Granta. The overall winner will be announced in Québec City in Canada on 9 July 2019.

2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist, by region


  • Adorah Nworah, ‘The Bride’ (Nigeria)

A Nigerian bride panics when a stranger poses as her groom. Her loved ones insist that the wedding must go on, and it does.

Adorah Nworah is an Igbo storyteller from Anambra State in Eastern Nigeria. She earned her juris doctorate from Temple Law School in 2018, and currently practices commercial real estate finance law in Philadelphia. Her short story, ‘Broken English’, was longlisted for the 2018 Short Story Day Africa Prize.

  • Alex Latimer, ‘Extinction’ (South Africa)

Soon after his mother’s death, a boy meets and befriends Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, discoverer of the coelacanth. Bonded by a shared surname, they help each other to come to terms with love and loss.

Alex Latimer is a writer and illustrator. His picture books for children have been published and translated around the world. He has written one novel, The Space Race, and has co-written two others, South and North, both with Diane Awerbuck under the pen name Frank Owen. Alex is currently working on Megafauna, a collection of short stories.

  • Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu, ‘The Blessing of Kali’ (Kenya)

An unforeseen tragedy strikes a young family bringing with it a tumultuous upheaval of spirituality and faith. For the non-believer, death awakens the possibility that perhaps, God is real.

Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu was born in Nairobi in 1977. She holds a Masters in Journalism from Columbia University. Irene has worked as a journalist in New York City, Washington DC and Boston. In 2017, Irene graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of Cape Town (Distinction). Irene lives in Cape Town with her husband and three kids. Lucky Girl is her first novel.

  • Erica Sugo Anyadike, ‘How to Marry an African President’ (Tanzania)

‘How To Marry an African President’ is a story about an ambitious First Lady who is vilified by society, when she attempts to take over the reigns of power from her aging husband, after he murders her lover.

Erica Sugo Anyadike works in television. She also writes short stories and has been published by Kwani, Writivism, Femrite and Karavan. Whether she’s writing for television or writing prose, Erica’s stories place African women at the centre of her narratives. She is particularly interested in complex representations of African women—rejecting simplistic portrayals of them in binary terms. She is currently writing a novel.

  • Mbozi Haimbe, ‘Madam’s Sister’ (Zambia)

The arrival of madam’s sister from London causes upheaval within the household, but has an unexpected bonus for the guard, Cephas.

Mbozi Haimbe was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia. She completed an MSt in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge in 2018, and is currently working on a collection of African inspired short stories. Mbozi lives in Norfolk with her family.


  • ‘Miss Coelho, English Teacher’, Kiran Doshi (India)
  • ‘Pengap’, Lokman Hakim (Malaysia), translated by Adriana Nordin Manan (Malaysia)
  • ‘My Mother Pattu, Saras Manickam (Malaysia)

Canada and Europe 

  • ‘Resurrection’, Hilary Dean (Canada)
  • ‘Death Customs’, Constantia Soteriou (Cyprus), translated by Lina Protopapa (Cyprus)
  • ‘Deserted’, Erato Ioannou (Cyprus)
  • ‘Amid the Winds and Snow’, Tyler Keevil (Canada)
  • ‘The Night of Hungry Ghosts’, Sarah Evans (UK)
  • ‘Love-life’, Nuzha Nuseibeh (UK)


  • ‘Granma’s Porch’, Alexia Tolas (Bahamas)
  • ‘A Hurricane & the Price of Fish’, Shakirah Bourne (Barbados)
  • ‘The Ol’ Higue on Market Street’, Kevin Garbaran (Guyana)
  • ‘Oats’, Rashad Hosein (Trinidad and Tobago)


  • ‘Bluey’, Maria Samuela (New Zealand)
  • ‘Screaming’, Harley Hern (New Zealand)
  • ‘Nightfall’, Emma Ashmere (Australia)


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