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Commonwealth Short Story Prize

2024

The 2024 Commonwealth Short Story Prize is now closed for entries and the judging process is underway.

The shortlist will be announced in April, the regional winners in May, and the overall winner in June 2024.

We would like to thank the 7,359 writers who submitted a short story.

The 2024 judging panel is chaired by Ugandan fiction writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. Jennifer’s fellow judges, drawn from the five regions of the Commonwealth, are South African writer Keletso Mopai (Africa), Singaporean short story writer, screenwriter and novelist O Thiam Chin (Asia), Canadian writer and editor Shashi Bhat (Canada/Europe), poet and author Richard Georges from the British Virgin Islands (Caribbean), and award-winning Australian Bundjalung writer Melissa Lucashenko (Pacific). You can find out more about the judging panel below. 

The 2025 prize will open for submissions on 1 September 2024. 

For any inquiries regarding the prize, please email: creatives@commonwealthfoundation.com

The 2025 prize will open for submissions on 1 September 2024. 

The Short Story Prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth. Regional winners each receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000. 

Scroll down to read answers to frequently asked questions about the prize, including who can enter, how stories are judged and what languages we accept. 

This year’s judging panel

  • Photo: Danny Moran

    Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

    Chair

    Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi wrote The First Woman (2020), which in 2021 won the Jhalak Prize, was shortlisted for The Diverse Book Award, the Encore Prize and the James Tait Black Prize, and longlisted for The Aspen Words Literary Prize. Her first novel, Kintu, won the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013, the Prix Transfuge du meilleur premier roman francais in 2019 and, in the same year, she was shortlisted for Edward Stanford Awards and longlisted for the Prix Médicis. Her collection of short stories, Manchester Happened, was shortlisted for The Big Book prize: Harper’s Bazaar in 2019 and longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize. Jennifer was the recipient of the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize in 2018. She was also the overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2014. She was part of the DAAD Artist-inBerlin programme in 2022 and currently she is Artist in Residence at STIAS Stellenbosch. She has a PhD from Lancaster University and has taught in several universities in the United Kingdom.

  • Keletso Mopai

    Judge, Africa Region

    Keletso Mopai is a South African writer and geologist. Her award-nominated and acclaimed debut collection of short stories If You Keep Digging, a social commentary on Post-Apartheid South Africa, was published in 2019 by Blackbird Books. Her work has been published in several journals internationally including Internazionale, The Johannesburg Review of Books, Catapult, Portside Review, Imbiza Journal, Kaleidoscope Magazine, Lolwe, and anthologies such as Joburg Noir. She returned to university in 2022 to pursue an MA in creative writing at The University of Cape Town where she wrote a novel-in-stories about a farm murder set in her hometown, Tzaneen.

  • O Thiam Chin

    Judge, Asia Region

    O Thiam Chin is a short story writer, screenwriter, and novelist from Singapore. His work has been published in Granta, The Cincinnati Review, Mānoa, The Brooklyn Rail, World Literature Today, The International Literary Quarterly, Asia Literary Review, Kyoto Journal, The Jakarta Post and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. Thrice longlisted for the Frank O’ Connor International Short Story Award, he is the author of six story-collections, including Love, Or Something Like Love, which was shortlisted for the 2014 Singapore Literature Prize. His debut novel, Now That It’s Over, won the inaugural Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2015 and the Best Fiction title at the 2017 Singapore Book Awards. His second novel, Fox Fire Girl, is currently being adapted into a feature film. He was an honorary fellow of the Iowa International Writing Program in 2010, and a recipient of the Singapore National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award in 2012.

  • Photo: Olivia Li

    Shashi Bhat

    Judge, Canada and Europe Region

    Shashi Bhat is the author of the forthcoming story collection Death by a Thousand Cuts (McClelland & Stewart/Penguin Random House Canada), and the novels The Most Precious Substance on Earth (McClelland &Stewart/Grand Central), a finalist for the 2022 Governor General’s Award for fiction, and The Family Took Shape (Cormorant), a finalist for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. Her fiction has won the Writers’ Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize and been shortlisted for a National Magazine Award and the RBC Bronwen Wallace Award, and has appeared in publications across North America, including The Threepenny Review, The Missouri Review, The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, Best Canadian Stories, and The Journey Prize Stories. Shashi holds an MFA from Johns Hopkins University and a BA from Cornell University. She lives in New Westminster, BC, where she is the editor-in-chief of EVENT magazine and teaches creative writing at Douglas College.

  • Photo: Ignus Dreyer

    Richard Georges

    Judge, Caribbean Region

    Richard Georges is a writer of essays, fiction, and three collections of poetry. His most recent book, Epiphaneia (2019), won the 2020 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, and his first book, Make Us All Islands (2017), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Richard is a founding editor of Moko magazine, a Fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study, and the first Poet Laureate of the British Virgin Islands. He works in higher education and lives on Tortola with his wife and children.

  • Photo: Glenn Hunt

    Melissa Lucashenko

    Judge, Pacific Region

    Melissa Lucashenko is a multi-award winning Bundjalung novelist from Brisbane. She is a Walkley Award winner for her non-fiction writing and a founding member of human rights group Sisters Inside.

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.

  • How is the prize judged?

    Entries are initially assessed by a team of readers and a longlist of 200 entries is put before the international judging panel, comprising a chair and five judges, one from each of the Commonwealth regions – Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. All judges read entries from all regions.

    Entries in other languages are assessed by relevant language readers and the best submissions are selected for translation into English to be considered for inclusion on the longlist.

    The judging panel select a shortlist of around twenty stories, from which five regional winners are chosen, one of which is chosen as the overall winner.