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Revisit the 2012 prize

Commonwealth Short Story Prize

2012

The 2012 prize winner

Emma Martin
Two Girls in a Boat

New Zealand writer Emma Martin is the overall winner of the 2012 Commonwealth Short Story Prize wth her story ‘Two Girls in a Boat’.

Emma Martin, Regional Winner, Pacific, was announced as the Overall Winner of the 2012 Commonwealth Short Story Prize at Hay Festival UK on 8 June 2012 by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

In 2012 Commonwealth Writers partnered with Granta magazine to give the overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize the opportunity to be edited and published by Granta online.

 

 

‘It is a wonderful and unexpected honour to win this prize. Writing can be a solitary business, so to receive any award is immensely encouraging. But the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is especially meaningful to me – I couldn’t be more grateful to Commonwealth Writers for welcoming me into its global community.’

Emma Martin

‘There were so many brilliant short stories on our shortlist but Two Girls in a Boat rose to the top as it fulfilled the judges’ brief that the winning entry have linguistic flair, originality, depth and daring. The story was chosen for its gorgeous, elegant and spare writing. It is also great that this prize, has discovered Emma Martin, who has not yet published a book, and brought her to an international audience. With her considerable talent we hope to see more of her work in the future.’

Bernardine Evaristo, Chair, 2012 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Regional winners

We are delighted to announce this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize regional winners!

 

This year’s regional winners have been selected from 2,095 entries.

Bernardine Evaristo, author and Chair of the Judges, 2012 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, said:

‘The five regional winning stories this year rose to the top and are the result of vigorous debate among the judges. Our final choices encompass range, depth, beauty, unpredictability and re-readability. These short stories will take you on a journey that spans cultures, eras, generations, and diverse ways of being and seeing. To read them is to inhabit other worlds.’

Bernardine Evaristo was joined on the international judging panel by Urvashi Butalia, Craig Cliff, Billy Kahora, Nicholas Laughlin and Lisa Moore.

  • Africa
    Morrison Okoli (1955-2010)
    Jekwu Anyaegbuna
    Nigeria
    Read their story on Granta (external)

    Jekwu Anyaegbuna was raised and educated in Nigeria where he qualified as a chartered accountant. He was shortlisted by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for the Farafina Trust International Creative Writers’ Programme. A graduate of the University of Ilorin, he writes both poetry and prose. His work has been widely published, or will be published, in literary journals in the United States and the UK. Jekwu lives, works and writes in Lagos where he has completed a manuscript of short stories.

  • Asia
    Radio Story
    Anushka Jasraj
    India
    Read their story on Granta (external)

    Anushka Jasraj writes short stories that often explore questions of identity and inheritance. Her influences include Wong Kar Wai and Anna Akhmatova. She has a bachelor’s degree in film production from New York University, and has worked on various independent films. She lives in Bombay, and is working on a novella based on an apocryphal story about Franz Kafka.

  • Caribbean
    The Dolphin Catcher
    Diana McCaulay
    Jamaica
    Read their story on Granta (external)

    Diana McCaulay is an award winning Jamaican writer and a lifelong resident of its capital city Kingston. Here novels include, Dog-Heart (March 2010) and Huracan (July 2012), published by Peepal Tree Press in the United Kingdom. Both novels met with critical acclaim and have broken local publishing records. Dog-Heart won a Gold Medal in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s National Creative Writing Awards (2008), was shortlisted for the Guyana Prize (2011), the IMPAC Dublin Award (2012) and the Saroyan Prize for International Writing (2012).

  • Canada & Europe
    The Ghost Marriage
    Andrea Mullaney
    Scotland
    Read their story on Granta (external)

    Andrea Mullaney is a journalist, university tutor and writer based in Glasgow, Scotland. She has been the TV Critic of The Scotsman newspaper since 2006 and has written for many other publications. She has had stories published in GutterAlgebra (Tramway Theatre journal), Fractured West and A Thousand Cranes (anthology in aid of the Red Cross’ Japanese tsunami appeal), among others, and has performed her work in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Paris.

  • Pacific
    Two Girls in a Boat
    Emma Martin
    New Zealand

    Emma Martin grew up in Dunedin. She studied philosophy at the University of Otago, later accepting a Commonwealth Scholarship to the UK. She started writing fiction in mid-life, completing an MA in Creative Writing at the Victoria University of Wellington in 2010. Her stories and essays have since been published in literary journals and anthologies in New Zealand and the UK. She lives in Wellington with her partner and two children, and is working on a collection of short stories.

  • The Shortlist

    Meet the 2012 shortlist! Read about the individual writers and their stories below.

    • Brothers
      Adrienne Frater
      New Zealand

      Having lived all over New Zealand, Adrienne Frater now lives in Nelson, in sight of sea and mountains. After a career in education, in the new millennium she decided to write. In 2002 she moved south so she could attend a writing course and lived in a motor-home. Each weekend she explored the region. Many of these settings have since appeared in her stories. By the end of the course she was on her way. She writes for both adults and children and her work has been published or broadcast in New Zealand and overseas. In 2004 she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia and in 2010 she donated the profits from a collection of her short fiction to the Cancer Society. “These days writing is my life-line. It has opened my eyes and ears to so much I would normally miss. Yes, for me, writing is fun. “

    • Devil Star
      Hazel Campbell
      Jamaica

      Hazel Dorothy Campbell lives in Kingston, Jamaica. She is a published author of both adult and children’s stories. Now retired, she freelances as an editor and teaches an occasional outreach writing class at the Philip Sherlock Centre at the University of the West Indies at Mona.Her titles include Singerman (Peepal Tree Press), My Darling You (ebook), and six books for children published in Jamaica by Carlong Publishers (Caribbean) Ltd and LMH Book Publishers. In 2011, she was awarded the prestigious Silver Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica for her ‘contribution to children’s literature and the encouragement of new writers in the island’. She has won other awards for writing for children (National Book Development Council and the Book Development Association of Jamaica).

       

    • Drums
      Mahesh Rao
      UK

      Mahesh Rao was born and grew up in Nairobi, Kenya.  He studied politics and economics at the University of Bristol and law at the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics.  In the UK he has worked as a lawyer, academic researcher and bookseller.  His work was shortlisted for the 2010 Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Contest.  He has completed his first novel and is currently working on a collection of short stories.  He lives in Mysore, India. 

    • Elbow
      Khadija Magardie
      South Africa

      Khadija Magardie was born in Johannesburg, a city she is pained to be separated from. Currently living in the Middle East , she is a journalist by trade but a writer by aspiration. This is her first attempt at fiction.

      Khadija is inspired by the short story traditions of the south of Africa – of Bessie Head, Doris Lessing, Dan Jacobson, Ahmed Essop, Don Mattera, and of Nadine Gordimer, who wrote that ‘nothing factual that I write or say will ever be as truthful as my fiction.’  Khadija is currently working on her first novel.

    • Flight
      Jayne Bauling
      South Africa

      Jayne Bauling writes fiction and poetry.  Her Young Adult novels have been awarded the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa and the Maskew Miller Longman  Literature Award.  She also won the inaugural African Writing Prize for Flash Fiction with her story Settling.  Her adult and youth short stories have been published in a number of South African anthologies.  Her poetry has been broadcast on the SABC’s SAfm and published in a number of international literary journals.  She has won poetry awards from SAfm and People Opposing Women Abuse.

    • Friends
      Sharon Millar
      Trinidad and Tobago

      “Gardening in the rain, watering at dusk with a glass of red wine and making up new recipes that I can never reproduce are just some of the things that I like to do. I live under a large tree in a nostalgic old house with my husband and my daughter, three dogs and two cats.

      I write about the things that I see in front of me, the moral choices that good people are forced to make. I wrote “Friends” at a time when kidnapping was endemic on the island. Such a terrible crime for such a small island where it’s said that everyone knows where you come from and who you are. This was the point that I was interested in exploring. On small islands, the tiniest things can trigger explosive consequences. I do feel a certain moral obligation to write against the “tourist-brochure” stereotype of the Caribbean, a duty to document what’s happening in this space at this time.”

      Sharon Millar has an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has just completed her first collection of short stories, The Dragonfly’s Tail and other Stories. 

    • Glory
      Janice Lynn
      The Bahamas

      Janice Lynn is a Bahamian writer.  She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia, and has published in anthologies including Tongues Of The OceanA Sudden And Violent Change, and We Have A Voice.  Her poetry was shortlisted for the Small Axe 2011 literary competition.  She spends much of her time abroad, but will always be a Nassau gal. 

    • If These Walls had Ears
      Carl Nixon
      New Zealand

      Carl Nixon lives in Christchurch, New Zealand He has a Masters in Religious Studies from the University of Canterbury. He is a full-time writer of plays, short stories and novels.

      His collection of short stories, Fish “n’ Chip Shop Song was published in early 2006 by Random House New Zealand, and immediately went to number one on the NZ best selling fiction list. It was short listed for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, 2007, Best first book Southeast Asia and South Pacific Region. His stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, and over a dozen have been broadcast by Radio New Zealand.

      He has published two novels, Rocking Horse Road (Random House NZ, 2008) and Settlers’ Creek (Random House NZ, 2010). Rocking Horse Road is to be published in German by Weidle Verlag in July 2012. His third novel is due to be published in 2013. It is a historical romance called The Virgin and the Whale.

      His theatrical scripts include: an adaptation of Lloyd Jones’ novel The Book of Fame, and an adaptation of Nobel Prize winner J M Coetzee’s novel Disgrace for Auckland Theatre CompanyCarl has completed a new play, a comedy, commissioned for the Court Theatre, called, The Birthday Boy, and is currently working on a drama for the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, The War Artist. 

    • Like a Heart Maybe, but Cold
      Chris Hill
      UK

      Chris Hill works in communications as media officer for UK children’s charity WellChild and has a background in regional newspaper journalism as a reporter, news editor and editor. He lives in Gloucester and is married with two sons. Chris has had some success as a short story writer winning a number of prizes including the Bridport Prize. His first novel Song of the Sea God will be published by Skylight Press this summer. ‘Song of the Sea God’ is a darkly comic tale of a stranger who arrives on an island off the coast of northern England and attempts to convince the local people he is a god. It has been described as: “A visionary and delightfully bizarre novel which reads like the gospel for a neophyte religion spawning in the sea foam among strange goings-on.” The novel was shortlisted (as The Longing) for the Daily Telegraph Novel in a Year prize and the Yeovil Prize for Literature. http://songoftheseagod.wordpress.com/ 

    • Morrison Okoli (1955-2010)
      Jekwu Anyaegbuna
      Nigeria

      Jekwu Anyaegbuna was raised and educated in Nigeria where he qualified as a chartered accountant. He was shortlisted by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for the Farafina Trust International Creative Writers’ Programme. A graduate of the University of Ilorin, he writes both poetry and prose. His work has been widely published, or will be published, in literary journals in the United States and the UK. Jekwu lives, works and writes in Lagos where he has completed a manuscript of short stories.

    • Next Full Moon We’ll Release Juno
      Bridget Pitt
      South Africa

      Bridget Pitt is a Zimbabwe born South African writer. Her first published writing was for a newspaper called Grassroots, which was used by Cape Town black communities as an organizing tool in the anti-apartheid struggles during the 1980s; she also produced media for a number of organizations and ran workshops in media skills. She later moved onto writing educational material for NGO’s, school text books, poetry and fiction. She has published poetry in The Thinker magazine, short stories, and two adult novels: Unbroken Wing and The Unseen Leopard, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2011. She is passionate about nature and art and runs workshops using both of these to help people heal, grow themselves, and to find inspiration and direction in their work. 

    • Radio Story
      Anushka Jasraj
      India

      Anushka Jasraj writes short stories that often explore questions of identity and inheritance. Her influences include Wong Kar Wai and Anna Akhmatova. She has a bachelor’s degree in film production from New York University, and has worked on various independent films. She lives in Bombay, and is working on a novella based on an apocryphal story about Franz Kafka.

    • Rush
      Nic Low
      Australia

      Nic Low is a writer and installation artist of Ngai Tahu Maori and European descent. He was born in New Zealand and currently divides his time between a Melbourne sharehouse and a bush retreat in rural Victoria. Nic’s short fiction, essays and criticism have been published in various Australian and New Zealand magazines, journals, newspapers and suspect anthologies. In 2011 he was awarded the GREW Prize for non-fiction for his writing on the Christchurch earthquake. He holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne. As an installation artist Nic has exhibited at festivals across Australia, tackling public-space politics, suburban and international surveillance and the conceptual mapping of climate change. He works with video, sound, plants, water and, often, his own house. In addition to writing and art-making, Nic runs the international writing program at the Asialink institute, developing tours, publishing projects and multi-arts collaborations across the Asian region. His latest project is a six-writer tour across India by train, accompanied by an ingenious pop-up travelling library.

    • The Crane
      Sarah Quigley
      New Zealand

      Born in New Zealand, Sarah Quigley is a fiction writer, poet, and reviewer. She has a D.Phil. in English Literature from St. Hilda’s College, Oxford. Her work has been widely published in New Zealand, the UK, the US, and Germany, and she has received several high-profile awards. Since winning the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer’s Residency in 2000, she has lived and worked in Berlin.

      She has published several novels, two collections of short fiction and poetry, and a creative writing manual. Recent novels include Shot and Fifty Days (Virago). Her new novel, The Conductor, tells the story of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony and its historic performance during the Siege of Leningrad in 1942. The Conductor was Number One Bestseller in New Zealand for 20 weeks. It will be published in the UK in July by Head of Zeus as their lead fiction title, and will also be published in Germany, France, Italy, and Canada in 2012/13. Quigley is represented by Simon Trewin at United Agents, London. 

    • The Dolphin Catcher
      Diana McCaulay
      Jamaica

      Diana McCaulay is an award winning Jamaican writer and a lifelong resident of its capital city Kingston. Here novels include, Dog-Heart (March 2010) and Huracan (July 2012), published by Peepal Tree Press in the United Kingdom. Both novels met with critical acclaim and have broken local publishing records. Dog-Heart won a Gold Medal in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s National Creative Writing Awards (2008), was shortlisted for the Guyana Prize (2011), the IMPAC Dublin Award (2012) and the Saroyan Prize for International Writing (2012).

    • The False River
      Nick Holdstock
      UK

      Nick Holdstock’s work has appeared in The Southern Reviewn+1 and the London Review of Books. He is author of The Tree That Bleeds, a non-fiction book about China, and the recipient of a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship.

    • The Ghost Marriage
      Andrea Mullaney
      Scotland

      Andrea Mullaney is a journalist, university tutor and writer based in Glasgow, Scotland. She has been the TV Critic of The Scotsman newspaper since 2006 and has written for many other publications. She has had stories published in GutterAlgebra (Tramway Theatre journal), Fractured West and A Thousand Cranes (anthology in aid of the Red Cross’ Japanese tsunami appeal), among others, and has performed her work in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Paris.

    • The Queen’s Blessing
      Edyth Bulbring
      South Africa

      Edyth Bulbring was born in Boksburg and grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She attended the University of Cape Town where she did a BA and edited the University newspaper Varsity. She worked as a journalist for fifteen years and was political correspondent at the Sunday Times covering the constitutional negotiations and first democratic elections.  After completing her MBA at Wits University in 1999, she was a project manager for a few years before quitting corporate life. She is the author of The Club, which was published by Jonathan Ball Publishers in September 2008, and five young adult novels: The Summer of Toffie and Grummer (Oxford University Press, February 2008); Cornelia Button and the Globe of Gamagion (Jacana, April 2008); Pops and The Nearly Dead (Penguin, March 2010); Melly, Mrs Ho and Me (Penguin, September 2010) and Melly, Fatty and Me (Penguin, September 2011). She lives in Johannesburg.

    • Two Girls in a Boat
      Emma Martin
      New Zealand

      Emma Martin grew up in Dunedin. She studied philosophy at the University of Otago, later accepting a Commonwealth Scholarship to the UK. She started writing fiction in mid-life, completing an MA in Creative Writing at the Victoria University of Wellington in 2010. Her stories and essays have since been published in literary journals and anthologies in New Zealand and the UK. She lives in Wellington with her partner and two children, and is working on a collection of short stories.

    • Ammulu
      Poile Sengupta
      India

      Poile Sengupta is a playwright and a writer of fiction. Her collection of six plays was published by Routledge, in 2010, as Women Centre Stage: The Dramatist and the Play. The collection includes Mangalam which won a special award at The Hindu-Madras Players Playscripts Competition, 1993, Keats was a Tuber which was shortlisted at the 1996 British Council International New Playwriting Competition and Samara’s Song which was on a shortlist of three for the 2008 Hindu MetroPlus Playscripts Award. Her plays have been performed in Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and other Indian cities.  In 1999-2000, Sengupta received a Government of India senior fellowship  to write plays for children. Her book of one act plays for children, Good Heavens! was published by Puffin in 2006.

      Poile Sengupta is also a writer of fiction for children. Her recent work includes Role Call and Role Call Again, 2003, by Rupa and Co. as also Vikram and Vetal, 2005 and Vikramaditya’s Throne, 2007, from Puffin. Role Call has been translated into Bhasa Indonesia. Her short fiction for children has been included in many anthologies.  Poile Sengupta has been an actor for both stage and film and lives in Bangalore. 

    • Another Dull Day
      Sreejith Sukumaran
      India

      Sreejith Sukumaran pursued theoretical physics research for more than ten years in Bangalore and Germany. He then lived in Mumbai for five years working in risk management divisions of global investment banks.  In 2009, he returned to live in his sleepy hometown, Trivandrum, and started writing his autobiography. He soon realized that the best parts of that work are fictitious and the rest hardly worth mentioning. He has remained faithful ever since to his first love of writing, guided by the dictum: forget reality, fiction suits life better.  He has posted more than fifty stories on his personal blogs.

      He writes about global problems like marriage, divorce, misunderstanding, deceit, death, hopelessness and emptiness in life. He is addicted to crime fiction and scared of serious people. His fiction usually eschews happy endings, love, long-lasting friendships and well-adjusted characters. He is currently trying to write the shortest story with the most interpretations.

    This year’s judging panel

    • Bernardine Evaristo

      Chair

      Bernardine Evaristo is the author of six books including: Hello Mum (2010); Lara (2009); Blonde Roots (2008); Soul Tourists (2005); The Emperor’s Babe (2001). She co-edited poetry anthology Ten, with Daljit Nagra (2010); Wasafiri – Black Britain: Beyond Definition with Karen McCarthy Woolf (2010), and the British Council anthology NW15 (2007) with Maggie Gee. She was made an MBE in 2009.

    • Urvashi Butalia

      Judge

      Urvashi Butalia is a writer and publisher. Co-founder of India’s first feminist publishing house, Kali for Women, she is now the director of Zubaan Books, which is an imprint of Kali. She co-edited In Other Words: New Writing by Indian Women (1994) and her books include Making a Difference: Feminist Publishing in the South (1995), Women and Right Wing Movements: Indian Experiences (1995), and Speaking Peace: Women’s Voices from Kashmir (2002). In 1998 she wrote the award-winning The Other Side of Silence: Voices from the Partition of India.

    • Craig Cliff

      Judge

      Craig Cliff is the author of the novel The Mannequin Makers (2013), described by The New Zealand Listener as “tremendous, darkly entertaining and original from start to finish,” and the short story collection, A Man Melting (2011) which won Best First Book in the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Cliff writes a column for the Dominion Post about his double life as a writer and public servant in Wellington, New Zealand, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

    • Billy Kahora

      Judge

      Billy Kahora is the Managing Editor of the Kenyan literary journal Kwani?. He has edited five issues of Kwani and numerous Kwani Trust publications including Kenya Burning and Nairobi 24. He is also an Associate Editor of the Chimurenga Chronic. His writings have been published in Granta Online, McSweeneysInternazionaleKwani?Chimurenga and Vanity Fair. His short story, Treadmill Love, was highly commended by the 2007 Caine Prize judges. He has written one book of creative nonfiction, The True Story of David Munyakei (2009), as well as the scripts for the 2010 film Soul Boy and Nairobi Half Life (2012).

    • Nicholas Laughlin

      Judge

      Nicholas Laughlin is the editor of The Caribbean Review of Books, programme director of the Bocas Lit Fest and a writer with a particular interest in Caribbean literature, art and culture. His reviews, essays, and poems have appeared in a number of journals and books. He is also a director of Alice Yard, a contemporary arts space and collaborative based in Port of Spain. He was born and has always lived in Trinidad.

    • Lisa Moore

      Judge

      Lisa Moore lives in St. Johns, New Foundland. Lisa has written two collections of short stories, Degrees of Nakedness (2005) and Open (2007), and two novels, Alligator (2007) and February (2011). She has edited The Penguin Anthology of Canadian Short Fiction by Women, and co-edited Great Expectations: 24 True Stories about Childbirth (2008). Open and Alligator were shortlisted for the Giller Prize, and Alligator won the Commonwealth Prize for the Canadian and Caribbean Region, and was long-listed for the Orange Prize. February and Open were short-listed for the Winterset Award, and February was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.

    Frequently asked questions

    • Who is eligible to submit?

      The prize is open to all Commonwealth citizens aged 18 and over –  please see the full list of Commonwealth countries here.

    • What do the winning writers receive?

      The regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives a total of £5,000. The winning stories are published online by Granta and in a special print collection by Paper + Ink. The shortlisted stories are published in adda, the online literary magazine of the Commonwealth Foundation.

    • What is the word limit?

      The story must be between 2,000 and 5,000 words.

    • Is there any required theme or genre?

      The prize is only open to short fiction, but it can be in any fiction genre–science fiction, speculative fiction, historical fiction, crime, romance, literary fiction–and you may write about any subject you wish.

    • In what languages do you accept entries?

      Submissions are accepted in Bengali, Chinese, Creole, English, French, Greek, Malay, Maltese, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, Tamil, and Turkish. Stories that have been translated into English from any language are also accepted and the translator of any winning story receives additional prize money.

    • Can the story be published?

      Your submission must be unpublished in any print or online publication, with the exception of personal websites.