Kevin Jared Hosein has won the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for his “uncanny bar story” combining “ideas of civility and ferality”.
The author from Trinidad and Tobago was announced as the winner in Cyprus on Wednesday evening (24th July) for "Passage" featuring a protagonist suffering a midlife crisis, who ventures into the wilderness in search for a mystery woman prompting unforeseen consequences. The award recognises the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth.
Having been named the Caribbean regional winner for the prize in 2015, and again this year, Hosein beat more than 5,000 entries to convince the judging panel, which was chaired by the novelist and poet Sarah Hall.
Wolf Border author Hall praised the “truly crafted piece of fiction” and revealed that it was “immediately and uniformly admired by the judges” on presenting the prize at the Centre of Visual Arts and Research in Nicosia, Cyprus.
“It is an uncanny bar story, about a man who hears a strange tale, only to become part of the tale’s re-lived strangeness,” she said. “It balances between formal language and demotic, ideas of civility and ferality, is tightly woven and suspenseful, beautifully and eerily atmospheric, and finally surprising. It is, in essence, all a reader could want from the short story form; a truly crafted piece of fiction that transports the reader into another world, upends expectations, and questions the nature of narratives and narrative consequence.”
Hosein (pictured below) is the award-winning writer of three books and has twice been shortlisted for the Small Axe Prize for Prose, and his work has been featured in numerous publications.
“I was not expecting to win," he said. "First to be among this eclectic quintet of winning stories, all with central resonating themes - happiness, connection, isolation, freedom, repression, acceptance - then to be chosen from that, I feel incredibly honoured that this Trinidadian tale has travelled so far.”
He added: “I hope others in my region are inspired by this accomplishment.”
Run by international authors' network Commonwealth Writers, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is the only one in the world where entries can be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, English, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, and Tamil. It is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth.
The prize is judged by an international panel of writers, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. In 2018, Damon Galgut (Africa), Sunila Galappatti (Asia), Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm (Canada and Europe), Mark McWatt (Caribbean), and Paula Morris (Pacific) chose five regional winners – tackling issues including abortion, transgender identity, religion and mental illness – from a shortlist of 24, with 5,182 stories submitted from 48 Commonwealth countries.