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Meet the 2017 Short Story Prize Judges

Posted on 06/09/2016
By Commonwealth Foundation

The 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize judging panel is chaired by Kamila Shamsie. The international judging panel comprises a judge from each of the five regions – Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Each year the judges select five winning writers who share a total prize money of £15,000. The overall winner receives £5,000, one of the highest amounts for an international short story prize open to unpublished writers. Regional winners receive £2,500.


kamila-shamsie-10691Kamila Shamsie is the author of six novels, including Burnt Shadows, which has been translated into more than twenty languages and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, and A God in Every Stone which was shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. Three of her other novels (In the City by the Sea, Kartography, Broken Verses) have received awards from the Pakistan Academy of Letters.  A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and one of Granta’s ‘Best of Young British Novelists’, she grew up in Karachi, and now lives in London.

Twitter: @kamilashamsie



Zukiswa Wanner 3Zukiswa Wanner is the 2015 winner of South African Literary Award’s  K. Sello Duiker Award for her fourth novel, London Cape Town Joburg. Her third novel, Men of the South, was shortlisted for Commonwealth Best Book (Africa region) and the Herman Charles Bosman Awards.  Wanner was one of the three judges of the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Fiction, sits on the board of the pan-African literary initiative Writivism and is on the Advisory Board of the Ake Literary Festival. She has facilitated writing workshops in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya , Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Germany. She is a columnist for the continental publication New African, and Saturday Nation in Kenya and has guest-hosted the monthly BBC Africa Book Club with Audrey Brown.




Mahesh RaoMahesh Rao is a novelist and short story writer. His short fiction has been shortlisted for various awards, including the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, The Baffler, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. His debut novel, The Smoke Is Rising, won the Tata First Book Award for fiction, and was shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize and the Crossword Prize. One Point Two Billion, his collection of short stories, was published to critical acclaim in October 2015.

Twitter: @mraozing



SONY DSCJacqueline Baker is a Canadian novelist and short story writer. She is the author of The Horseman’s Graves and A Hard Witching and Other Stories, which won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, the City of Edmonton Book Prize, and the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction. It was also a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her most recent novel, The Broken Hours, was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award. Jacqueline is Assistant Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at MacEwan University.

Twitter @jakerback



jacobcurrent.resizedJacob Ross
is a writer and editor from Grenada. His first novel Pynter Bender was published in September 2008 to much critical acclaim. It was shortlisted for the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Regional Prize and chosen as one of the British Authors Club’s top three Best First Novels (2009). His second book, The Bone Readers, a crime thriller, was published earlier this year.  He is also the author of the acclaimed short story collections, Song for Simone and A Way to Catch the Dust.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has been a judge of the V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize, the Olive Cook, Scott Moncrieff and Tom-Gallon Literary Awards.

Twitter: @rosswriterj



Vilson HerenikoVilsoni Hereniko was born and raised on Rotuma in the South Pacific for the first sixteen years of his life. The youngest of eleven children, his father was a great storyteller who fired his imagination every night by recounting the oral tales of his isolated island, about 300 miles north of Fiji. These stories sustained and made him aware at a very early age of the transformative power of story. He is now an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, filmmaker and professor at the University of Hawaii. He has also written children’s books, short stories, poetry, and numerous scholarly articles and several books on Pacific art, film, literature, and culture. A stage and film director as well, he has a M.Ed. from the University of Newcastle-upon Tyne and a Ph.D from the University of the South Pacific.