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Sharon Millar and Eliza Robertson

Posted on 19/10/2020
By Commonwealth Foundation

To celebrate 10 years of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize we are inviting previous winners to share something new with us—it might be a story, a podcast, an interview or a blog. Here 2013 joint Prize winners Sharon Millar and Eliza Robertson share their readings of their short stories,  ‘Brian and Ms Zanana’ and ‘Vigil’.

‘Brian and Ms. Zanana’ is one of Sharon’s early stories and appears in the collection The Whale House and other stories (Peepal Tree Press 2015). Primarily it deals with the landscape and wildlife of her homeland Trinidad. It is at heart a murder mystery. But even the author cannot answer the questions this story invokes.

Sharon Millar is a Trinidadian writer. Millar won the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the 2012 Small Axe Short Fiction Award. In 2015, she published her first collection of short stories The Whale House and other stories (Peepal Tree Press 2015). The collection was shortlisted for the fiction component of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Manchester Review, Small Axe, WomanSpeak, Griffith Review, PREE, and other publications. Millar’s stories have been anthologized in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean (Akashic Books), Thicker than Water, A New Anthology of Caribbean Writing, (Peekash Press 2018) and  The Peepal Tree Book of Contemporary Caribbean Short Stories in November 2018. Millar holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. She has been a visiting lecturer at the Sierra Nevada Low Residency program and has taught creative writing at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus. Millar lives and works in Trinidad and is currently at work on her first novel.

To read Sharon’s prizewinning story, ‘The Whalehouse’, click here.

Inspired by the summers Eliza spent with her family in the Okanagan, ‘Vigil’ explores our disintegrating relationship to the natural world, a young girl’s enthralment with an itinerant peach picker— and snakes. ‘Vigil’ was published in The Chicago Review, February 2020.

Eliza Robertson’s 2014 debut collection, Wallflowers, was shortlisted for the East Anglia Book Award, the Danuta Gleed Short Story Prize, and selected as a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Her critically acclaimed first novel, Demi-Gods, was a Globe & Mail and National Post book of the year and the winner of the 2018 QWF Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize. She studied creative writing at the University of Victoria and the University of East Anglia, where she received the Man Booker Scholarship and Curtis Brown Prize. In addition to being shortlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize and Journey Prize, Eliza’s stories have won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, 2017 Elizabeth Jolley Prize, 2019 3Macs carte blanche Prize, and most recently have been shortlisted for the 2019 Berlin Writing Prize. Originally from Vancouver Island, Eliza lives in Montreal.

Photo: Ellie Gillard

To read Eliza’s prizewinning story, ‘We Walked on Water’, click here.