We are pleased to announce this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize regional winners!
Chair of the judges, Ghanaian writer and editor Nii Ayikwei Parkes, said ‘I don’t believe there is a perfect story; there are great stories, but no perfect stories. What is amazing is what happens when a story encounters a ready reader or listener – that moment is magic. That connection is never the same for any two people or for any two moments and that’s why I love judging competitions: I get to talk about stories with other people who love stories, but it’s completely unpredictable. We now have a list of regional winning stories that are striking for their lateral leaps, their use of language, voice and subversion – and their sheer courage. I look forward to the discussions with my fellow judges to pick an overall winner. I guarantee that it will be a story that moves people, but I don’t know which one it will be.’
Joining Nii on the 2020 judging panel are: 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.
The five regional winners’ stories will be published online by the literary magazine Granta in the run-up to the announcement of the overall winner on 30 June. You can find out more about the ceremony’s special guests and register here to join us on 30 June.
Read on to hear more from the winners.
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A F R I C A
‘When a Woman Renounces Motherhood’, Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Nigeria)
A woman and her mother bond in the face of a sexist tradition.
Innocent Chizaram Ilo is an Igbo writer from Nigeria. Their works interrogate gender, class, memory, and sexuality and have been published in literary magazines across four continents. They are a finalist of the Gerald Kraak Award, Short Story Day Africa, and Wilbur Smith Author Of Tomorrow prizes. They have also won the Africa YMCA and Oxford Festival of the Arts short story contests. Their works have been published in Fireside Magazine, Overland, Strange Horizons, Cosmic Roots And Eldritch Shores, Cast Of Wonders, Transcendent 4: Best Of The Year Transgender Speculative Fiction Anthology, Short Story Day ID Anthology, and Heart Of The Matter: Gerald Kraak Award Anthology.
Read ‘When a Woman Renounces Motherhood’ on Granta nowWatch Innocent talk about their regional winning story
A S I A
‘The Great Indian Tee and Snakes’, Kritika Pandey (India)
This is a story of two young people trying to solve the age-old riddle of human existence: how does one love in the era of hatred and prejudice?
Kritika Pandey is a Pushcart-nominated Indian writer and a final year MFA candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is a recipient of a 2020 grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation. Her works are forthcoming or have appeared in Guernica, The Common, The Bombay Literary Magazine, Raleigh Review, and UCity Review, among others. She has won the Harvey Swados Fiction Prize, the Cara Parravani Memorial Award, and the Charles Wallace Scholarship for Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh.
Read ‘The Great Indian Tee and Snakes’ on Granta nowWatch Kritika talk about her regional winning story
C A N A D A A N D E U R O P E
‘Wherever Mister Jensen Went’, Reyah Martin (United Kingdom)
‘Wherever Mr Jensen Went’ is a story which explores the power of rumour and hysteria, for better or for worse. This story challenges society, calling for change before it’s too late…
Born in Scotland, Reyah Martin has featured in several online publications, and was a finalist in the BBC Young Writers’ Award 2018. She is a member of the Scottish NYAAG (National Youth Arts Advisory Group), and an undergraduate of Journalism and Creative Writing at Strathclyde University. When she is not writing, she tutors English and Creative Writing with a focus on encouraging young people. She is currently working on her debut novel.
Read ‘Wherever Mister Jensen Went’ on Granta nowWatch Reyah talk about her regional winning story
C A R I B B E A N
‘Mafootoo’, Brian S. Heap (Jamaica)
A Jamaican woman living in England confronts a crisis late in her life. She uses the occasion to reflect on her life and her marriage.
Brian S. Heap is the retired Senior Lecturer, Staff Tutor in Drama and Head of the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. He has worked in Drama and Education in Jamaica for over forty years. With Pamela Bowell he co-authored Planning Process Drama: Enriching Teaching and Learning (2001, 2013) and Putting Process Drama into Action (2017) as well as several conference papers and articles for refereed journals. He served as Conference Director and Convener of the Fifth International Drama in Education Research Institute (2006) in Kingston, Jamaica. He was honoured with the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica in 2002.
Read ‘Mafootoo’ on Granta nowWatch Brian talk about his regional winning story
P A C I F I C
‘The Art of Waving’, Andrea E. Macleod (Australia)
As a child a woman is told by her older sister not to wave to people. She reflects on how this changed her and the connections she has been both able and unable to make as a result.
Andrea E. Macleod is a Brisbane writer, poet and journalist. In her journalism she is passionate about issues of equality and justice. She is studying literature, working on a collection of short stories and a novella. Most recently her work was shortlisted for the Newcastle Short Story Award and long-listed for the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize.
Read ‘The Art of Waving’ on Granta nowWatch Andrea talk about her regional winning story
If you would like to enter the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, it will open for submissions on 1 September and close for submissions on 1 November 2020. Please find the entry rules and guidelines here: 2021 rules and guidelines.