Female authors dominate this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize, with 15 women making up the 21-strong line-up and two British authors in the mix.
21 unpublished short stories have been selected by an international judging panel from 5,081 entries. The writers come from 16 countries, including, for the first time, Tanzania, Zambia, Malaysia, Cyprus, and Barbados.
Split into five regions, Sarah Evans and her story The Night of Hungry Ghosts and Nuzha Nuseibeh's entry Love-life represent the UK. Resurrection by Hilary Dean (Canada), Death Customs by Constantia Soteriou, translated by Lina Protopapa (Cyprus) and Deserted by Erato Ioannou (Cyprus) are also in the running for the Canada and Europe prize alongside Amid the Winds and Snow by Tyler Keevil (Canada).
Meanwhile the contenders for the Africa shortlist are The Bride by Adorah Nworah (Nigeria), Extinction by Alex Latimer (South Africa), The Blessing of Kali by Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu (Kenya), How to Marry an African President by Erica Sugo Anyadike (Tanzania) and Madam’s Sister by Mbozi Haimbe (Zambia).
Kiran Doshi’s Miss Coelho, English Teacher (India) made the Asia shortlist alongside Pengap by Lokman Hakim, translated by Adriana Nordin Manan (Malaysia) and My Mother Pattu by Saras Manickam (Malaysia).
For the Caribbean, Alexia Tolas’ Granma’s Porch (Bahamas) is up against A Hurricane & the Price of Fish by Shakirah Bourne (Barbados), The Ol’ Higue on Market Street by Kevin Garbaran (Guyana) and Oats by Rashad Hosein (Trinidad and Tobago).
Bluey by Maria Samuela (New Zealand), Screaming by Harley Hern (New Zealand) and Nightfall by Emma Ashmere (Australia) make up the Pacific shortlist.
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.”
The winner for each of the five regions will be announced Thursday, 9th May before being published online by the literary magazine Granta. The overall winner will be announced in Québec City on 9th July.
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth. It is the only prize in the world where entries can be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, English, Greek, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, Tamil, and Turkish.