The shortlist for this year's Commonwealth Short Story Prize has been announced, and features 20 entries from countries across the Commonwealth.
The prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished, short fiction from any of the Commonwealth countries, and is the only literary prize to allow submissions in any of the countries' languages. The overall winner will receive £5,000 and five "regional" winners will be awarded £2,500.
Ghanaian athor Nii Ayikwei Parkes, chair of the judges, said: "Beyond their basic plots, the best stories are elevated by the language in which they are told. In this judging process, the fine language has also undoubtedly been that of my fellow judges, who add nuance, colour, fun and a profound knowledge of trends in their regions to discussions.
"The result of the time we've spent indulging in the submissions to the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is a shortlist of 20 unique stories. These stories, drawn from all over the globe, are as harrowing as they are uplifting, funny while being tragic—and defiant in the face of politics, bigotry and injustice.
"But, crucially, at a time like this, with the world beset with myriad challenges and a devastating virus, the stories are grounded in faith, hope and the humanity we all share."
The judging panel also includes South African writer and musician Mohale Mashigo, executive director of the Singapore Books Council William Phuan, Canadian author Heather O’Neill, Trinidadian scholar and writer Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw, and Australian writer and arts organiser Nic Low, who was shortlisted for the 2012 prize.
This year's shortlisted stories will be published online in adda magazine.
The judges will go on to choose a winner for each of the five regions, who will be announced on 2nd June, before being published online by literary magazine Granta. The overall winner will be announced on 7th July.
The full shortlist, selected from 5,107 entries from 49 different countries, comprises:
The Dawning by Aba Asibon (Ghana)
When a Woman Renounces Motherhood by Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Nigeria)
Rites Evasion Maneuvers by Caleb Ozovehe Ajinomoh (Nigeria)
The Faraway Things by Alboricah Tokologo Rathupetsane (South Africa)
Fatou vs the Dictator by ML Kejera (The Gambia)
The Shedding by Nafisa A. Iqbal (Bangladesh)
The Great Indian Tee and Snakes by Kritika Pandey (India)
The Teeth on the Bus Go Round and Round by Dinesh Devarajan (India)
Ouroboros, Ouroboros by Sharmini Aphrodite (Malaysia)
An Instruction Manual - How to Find Your Vagina by Maham Javaid (Pakistan)
Canada and Europe
Provenance by Jason Jobin (Canada)
The Eternally Obvious is Not Obvious to Me by Marcia Walker (Canada)
To Xreos (The Debt) by Nikolas Kyriacou (Cyprus) translated from the Greek by Lina Protopapa
Wherever Mister Jensen Went by Reyah Martin (United Kingdom)
Mafootoo by Brian S. Heap (Jamaica)
Cash and Carry by Sharma Taylor (Jamaica)
Finger, Spinster, Serial Killer by Brandon Mc Ivor (Trinidad and Tobago)
The Art of Waving by Andrea E Macleod (Australia)
Attention by Catherine Chidgey (New Zealand)
A Breath, a Bunk, a Land, a Sky by Fiona Sussman (New Zealand)