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Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2018 Regional Winners

Posted on 27/06/2018
By Commonwealth Foundation

 

The international judging panel has selected five regional winners for the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, from 5,182 entries and a shortlist of 24 stories. They are:

 

AFRICA

‘True Happiness’

Efua Traoré
(Nigeria)

ASIA

‘The Divine Pregnancy in a Twelve-Year-Old Woman’

Sagnik Datta
(India)

CANADA AND EUROPE

‘Ghillies Mum’

Lynda Clark
(UK)

CARIBBEAN

‘Passage’

Kevin Jared Hosein
(Trinidad and Tobago)

PACIFIC

‘Matalasi’

Jenny Bennett-Tuionetoa
(Samoa)

 

Sarah Hall, Chair of the Judges, said: “Each of the winning regional stories speaks strongly for itself in extraordinary prose, and speaks for and beyond its region, often challenging notions of identity, place and society. Individually, the stories exhibit marvellous imaginative and stylistic diversity; together, they remind us that our deeper human concerns and conundrums are shared, and that the short story form is uniquely adept at offering the reader a world in which she or he might feel a sense both of belonging and un-belonging, might question his or her understanding of the world.”

The panel of judges comprises writers who represent each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. The 2018 judges are Damon Galgut (Africa), Sunila Galappatti (Asia), Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm (Canada and Europe), Mark McWatt (Caribbean) and Paula Morris (Pacific).

The five stories will be published in partnership with Granta in the run up to the overall Prize announcement at the Centre for Visual Arts and Research, Nicosia, on 25 July. Luke NeimaGranta‘s Online Editor, said: “Granta magazine is delighted to be introducing the storytellers and writers who have been awarded the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize to our readers. This year ’s selection introduces exciting emerging talents from around the world, writers who bring to their readers a thrilling and essential glimpse of the tradition, culture and vibrancy of life across the Commonwealth. Here is a rich new seam of voices, ideas, and talent from around the world.”

Read on to hear more from the winners.

Press contact: Danel Kramb, FMcM. danielk@fmcm.co.uk

 

A F R I C A

‘True Happiness’, Efua Traoré (Nigeria)

A troubled thirteen-year-old boy in Lagos questions his pastor’s definition of true happiness.

"Africa - and in particular Nigeria - has the most amazing story-tellers. This prize gives me the humbling feeling of being part of something great. I am truly honoured”.

Efua Traoré is a Nigerian-German writer who grew up in a little town in the south of Nigeria. For as long as she can remember, her head was always filled with little stories, but it was not until her late twenties that she discovered her passion for writing them down.
After winning a Glimmer Train prize for the first 1,000 words of a novel she wrote her first book.

 

A S I A

‘The Divine Pregnancy in a Twelve-Year-Old Woman’,


Sagnik Datta (India)

A twelve-year-old is pregnant with the child of God. The good villagers must overcome all the obstacles standing in the way of the divine birth, especially the mother.

 

Read on Granta.

"Winning the regional prize feels pretty great! It provides validation, motivation, and some recognition. I'm also really excited about having my story published. Like any writer, I want my work to be read, and now hopefully my work will reach more people than before".

Sagnik Datta is from Siliguri, India. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Texas at Austin, and a degree in Engineering Physics from Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (although he’s not sure where he has kept it). He’s currently working on a novel.

 

C A N A D A   A N D   E U R O P E

‘Ghillie’s Mum’, Lynda Clark (United Kingdom)

Ghillie’s mum would be just like everyone else’s if she could only stop turning into animals.

"I'm stunned, honoured and delighted to have been awarded the regional prize. It feels like validation for all the years spent chipping away with my strange little stories, but it's also a bit scary that people will now be able to see into my weird brain".

Lynda Clark is a writer and former videogame producer. She’s currently combining these two interests by undertaking a PhD in interactive narrative at Nottingham Trent University. Her short stories often get described as ‘strange’ and have appeared in several collections from small independent presses. Most recently, her story ‘Grandma’s Feast Day’ was shortlisted for the 2017 Cambridge Short Story Prize.

 

C A R I B B E A N

‘Passage’, Kevin Jared Hosein, (Trinidad and Tobago)

A man, going through a mid-life crisis, decides to hike up a mountain. Along the way, he finds the skull of a child near a mysterious house.

"Trinidad and Tobago writes itself. It writes loudly and quietly at the same time. Loudly, because it likes to boast of its best and worst parts. Quietly, because it thinks nobody cares to listen. This win, along with the many voices year after year whom have shortlisted and won for this little twin-island nation, is reinforced proof that people out there are entertained by our stories, derive meaning and relevance from them, and are moved by them. It is proof that people care to listen".

Kevin Jared Hosein is the author of three books: The Beast of Kukuyo (Burt Award for Caribbean Literature), The Repenters (OCM Bocas Prize for Fiction shortlist) and Littletown Secrets. He is the 2015 Caribbean regional winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and has been twice shortlisted for the Small Axe Prize for Prose. His work has been featured in numerous publications, such as Lightspeed, adda and, most recently, We Mark Your Memory: Writing from the Descendants of Indenture.

 

P A C I F I C

‘Matalasi’, Jenny Bennett-Tuionetoa, (Samoa)

This is a story about difference, identity and the high cost of conformity. Set in a conservative Pacific Island society, ‘Matalasi’ plunges the reader into the inner world of an individual forced to choose between identity and survival.

Read on Granta.

Winning the regional prize is the highlight of my writing career so far and I am sincerely grateful to the judges for their decision. The prize has brought 'Matalasi' and the very real issues that it deals with to the attention of an international audience. As an advocate for human rights, this is a significant step towards realizing my dream of using my writing to help raise awareness about the struggles of LGBTQIA people in the Pacific Islands.

Jenny Bennett-Tuionetoa is a human rights advocate who seeks to use writing as a means of raising awareness about LGBTQIA issues in the Pacific Islands. She was born and raised in Samoa where she currently lives with her two young daughters.