We are looking for Commonwealth citizens to share their views ahead of the 2024 Heads of Government Meeting. Sign up to take part
The Shortlist has been announced

Commonwealth Short Story Prize

2024

We are delighted to present the 2024 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist. The 23 writers have been selected by an international judging panel from 7,359 entries in a record-breaking year.  

This year’s shortlist hail from 13 Commonwealth countries. Writers from Mauritius, Rwanda and St Kitts and Nevis feature for the very first time.  

Many of the stories are told through the eyes of children—tales of parents splitting up, of school, and of the often baffling behaviour of adults around them. Older characters also appear—sometimes destructive, sometimes inspiring. Five of the stories reflect on motherhood in very different ways. Others tell of forbidden love in a hostile world. Topics range from music, football, art, film, the impact of electricity arriving in a village, and even one woman’s passion for tea.  While romance and thrillers feature prominently, nearly a quarter of the shortlisted stories are speculative fiction. 

Chair of the Judges, Ugandan-British novelist and short story writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi says: ‘This is a dream list for lovers of the short story form. You’ll be amazed and thrilled, startled and shocked, and heartbroken and humbled in equal measure by the skill and talent, imagination and creativity.’ 

Dr Anne T. Gallagher AO, Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation, added: ‘The Short Story Prize is legendary for unearthing and nurturing the rich creative talent of our Commonwealth. This year is no exception. My congratulations to the 23 writers whose stories will now secure a truly global audience.’ 

Five regional winners will be announced on 29 May and the overall winner will be announced on 26 June. The shortlisted stories will be published in adda, our online literary magazine. 

Scroll down to see all the shortlisted writers, as well as more details about their stories.

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The Short Story Prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth.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. 

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

The Shortlist

The 2024 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist was announced on 17 April. Twenty-three writers have been selected for the shortlist after 7,359 entered stories this year’s prize.

  • 'A River Then the Road'
    Pip Robertson
    New Zealand

    A 12-year-old girl and her brother visit their troubled father for the weekend. Mistrust of her own body and a sense of duty to protect her father from the consequences of his actions lead her into danger.

    ‘Alexis woke to pain in her stomach. The room was dark and still, and she could tell straight away that their dad was out. The pain came and went, a dull stabbing. After a while, headlights glared through the thin curtain, swooped across the wall.’

    Pip Robertson has had short stories published in journals and anthologies in print and online. She has a Master of Arts from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. She lives in Whanganui-A-Tara, Aotearoa New Zealand, with her partner, daughter and dogs.

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'Dite'
    Reena
    Mauritius

    Dite, which means ‘tea’ in Creole, is an exploration of a Mauritian woman’s love of tea and of her ties to the colonial history of tea. Each tea in her collection contains an olfactory memory in which her relationship with education, language, sex and other women is captured.

    ‘As Durga inhaled the tea her mother had made her, its aroma bloomed into a remembrance as intense and engulfing as it was evanescent. A childhood memory, which had coalesced around the long-buried but instantly familiar fragrance of the tea, invaded her nostrils.’

    Reena is a Mauritian writer, scholar, teacher, speaker, and mother. As an islander, an African and a diasporic South Asian, she uses the language of fiction (whether as a writer or a literary critic) to speak on how colonial violence infiltrates our beings, our languages and our desires, and on the creative ways in which we resist. She is an assistant professor of literature at Harvard University.

    Photo: Ashvin Ramdi

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'Nobody Owns a Fire'
    Jennifer Severn
    Australia

    Two men explore a later-life sexual re-awakening against a small-town culture that demands conformity and secrecy.

    ‘Yeah, nobody owned a fire, and you never knew who would turn up, drawn by some primeval force—warmth and light, sure, but something more, something timeworn and holy. He caught himself, getting all philosophical again. He scuffed the toe of his boot in the charcoal-flecked dirt.’

    Jennifer Severn has worked as a commercial and technical writer and has always written for pleasure. She has written local interest stories for her local community newspaper, The Triangle, since 2003. Her manuscript Long Road to Dry River was shortlisted for the Finch Prize for Memoir in 2018. An early manuscript for her novella Garnet was shortlisted for the Viva la Novella prize in 2022. Read her blog at www.jennifersevern.com.au.

    Photo: John van Horssen

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'Mananangal'
    M Donato
    New Zealand

    While visiting the Philippines, a young woman becomes entangled in the life and fate of her cousin, Magda.

    ‘Mirinda doused herself with the hose first, then me. The water was blood warm. I closed my eyes and turned slowly in the baptismal spray, pretending not to be disappointed. There was a clap of skin, jandals slapping the road and the soles of feet. It was a group of grinning men in loose singlets and basketball shorts.’

    M Donato is a Filipino-New Zealander living in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara. She has a BA in English Literature from Victoria University and an MA from the International Institute of Modern Letters. Her work has been published in Turbine, Newsroom, and A Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa, New Zealand.

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'Wrinkle Release'
    Stefan Bindley-Taylor
    Trinidad and Tobago

    A young narrator moves to New York in the year 2058 and befriends a local laundromat owner. Things take a turn as the narrator discovers that the laundromat owner is actually a former reggae star who plans to use a washing machine to turn back time for one final concert.

    ‘The laundromat itself, however, was a bit less so. The walls had faded into a sun-bleached algae color, and the floor was peppered with mildew and dust. Beige washing machines and dryers stood in neat rows, threaded together by a mysterious configuration of clunky aluminum tubing.’

    Stefan Bindley-Taylor is a Trinidadian-American musician, writer, and educator. Raised in Maryland, he currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. Through his writing, he renders absurdist and surrealist worlds from a West Indian perspective. His prose is inspired by the work of authors such as V.S. Naipaul, Gish Jen, and Frantz Fanon. As a musician, he performs in a self-produced hardcore project called FISHLORD and an alternative hip-hop project called Nafets.

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'So Clean'
    Anna Woods
    New Zealand

    ‘So Clean’ is the story of a young woman forced to face her many fears before they consume her.

    ‘Still on the bed, Bel opens her eyes. The light has dropped, gone bluish and the air has a bite, the smell of compost has receded. The party will be getting going now. She wants to go back but her mother is right. Life’s dirty. Life’s hard.’

    Anna Woods is a writer from Tāmaki Makaurau, New Zealand. Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies such as Landfall, takahē, The Poetry NZ Yearbook and Geometry, amongst others. Her work has been recognised with various awards and residencies. Most recently, one of her stories won New Zealand’s richest short story competition, the Sargeson Prize. She holds a Master of Creative Writing from the University of Auckland.

  • 'You Had Me at Aloe'
    Ark Ramsay
    Barbados

    In the shadow of inevitable grief, a young transfeminine person distrusts the promises of a new love.

    ‘I crossed the road and bought two large pizzas, topped with cheese and an oil spill, devoured both next to the sidewalk. I learned there, fingers patinaed with grease, how to stitch all that hurt to my ribs, telling myself that it would be survivable that way.’

    Ark Ramsay (Bridgetown, 1994) is a non-binary writer currently based in Barbados. Their work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The A-Line: Journal of Progressive Thought, Small Axe, Gertrude Press, Meridian, The Rumpus, Passages North, and The Gulf Coast. Their writing has also been a finalist for the Inaugural Story Foundation Prize through Story Magazine and an honourable mention in Ninth Letter’s 2021 Literary Award for Nonfiction. They received an MFA from The Ohio State University in 2022.

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'Terre Brulée'
    Celeste Mohammed
    Trinidad and Tobago

    ‘Terre Brulée’ is a post-colonial story that chronicles the fraught and disastrous relationship between Pinky Khan and her son, Shiva.

    ‘I find the Deed paper for this property: 33 Terre Brulée Road. From Mr. Edward Stone to me, Pinkie Khan. This coulda be Shiva own. I never tell he wotless father ’bout this, and I never tell he neither. I did hold back because I didn’t want no man—not even my son—to love me for land.’

    Celeste Mohammed is a Trinidadian lawyer-turned-writer. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her short stories have won numerous awards. As a ‘dougla’ or ‘half-Indian’, Celeste hails from a line of humble but resilient Indo-Trinidadian women, who faced a post-plantation culture marked by intimate-partner violence. Her new and yet unpublished novel grapples with this complicacted history.

    Photo: Damian Luk Pat Photography

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'Thambi, Thambi'
    Bharath Kumar
    India

    Set in rural Tamil Nadu in the nineties, Thambi, Thambi explores friendship and grief through an unlikely relationship between a sensitive young boy and a woman with a mental illness.

    ‘When I stepped out of home, preparing for a new school in the city, Kamala lingered in my mind like a vivid snapshot of memories. Amidst the flurry of farewells, her presence felt like an unspoken burden of the past. Yet, as life evolved in our village, Kamala’s absence left a silent void, echoing the untold tales of her mysterious existence.’

    Bharath Kumar is a writer and translator from Tamil Nadu, India. He has a bachelor’s degree in engineering and a Master’s degree in Philosophy. He was one of the editors of the Oxford University Press’s English-Tamil bilingual dictionary project. His works have appeared in the Usawa Literary Review, Out of Print Magazine‘s blog, and the book I, Salma. He is a South Asia Speaks Fellow who is currently working on his debut collection of short stories.

    Photo: Deepti Sreeram

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'Aishwarya Rai'
    Sanjana Thakur
    India

    The first mother is too clean; the second, too pretty. In her small Mumbai apartment with too-thin walls and a too-small balcony, Avni watches laundry turn round in her machine, dreams of white limousines, and tries out different mothers from the shelter. One of them has to be just right.

    ”I am sorry to upset you,’ Nazneen says, switching off the tap and wringing the shirt with all the ferocity of a TurboDry until the excess water has sweated out. ‘But I don’t think you will find what you are looking for in a new mother.”

    Sanjana Thakur has a degree in English and Anthropology from Wellesley College, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Fiction at UT Austin’s New Writers Project. Her short story Backstroke was published in The Southampton Review. She is from Mumbai, India.

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'Mother May I'
    Ajay Patri
    India

    In ‘Mother May I’, a woman who makes a living pretending to be other people has to contend with an assignment in which the lines between reality and fiction threaten to become indistinguishable.

    ‘I peel the sweater away from my armpits and then run a finger around its collar to separate it from my neck. My skin is clammy, there is sweat pooling behind my ears, and it feels as if there’s sweat clogging up my nose as well, making it difficult for me to breathe.’

    Ajay Patri is a writer and lawyer from Bangalore, India. His short fiction has been published in the Bristol Short Story Prize anthology in the past. He is also the recipient of a fellowship from South Asia Speaks, a mentorship programme for early career writers.

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'When Things End'
    Sarah Balakrishnan
    Canada

    A white Zimbabwean professor, attracted to his young student, begins an affair that threatens to derail both of their lives.

    ‘Two weeks, three days: that is how long he is put on bed rest. Time itself begins to impress on Harry with new meaning. The days draw listless light across the shape of his bed. At sundown, he awaits Helen’s return from campus, her briefcase stocked with thoughtful cards from their students and well-meaning colleagues, her arms laden with the books for him that have arrived that day in the mail.’

    Sarah Balakrishnan is a Canadian writer from Cambridge, Ontario. She is a graduate of McGill University and Harvard University. She teaches classes on history at Duke University. Sarah was the 2022 Narrative Prize winner, the 2021 winner of Narrative Magazine’s 30 Under contest, and a 2021 finalist for the Cecilia Joyce Johnson Award for Short Fiction. She is represented by Ellen Levine and Audrey Crooks at Trident Media Group Literary Agency.

    Photo: Adam Ewing

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'What Burns'
    Julie Bouchard
    Canada

    What Burns aims to be a narrative exploration—through flames, red bones and ashes—of the living forces that are consumed within and around us in this fiery 21st century.

    ‘Since, according to experts’ calculations, the fire is advancing at around 500 metres a day. In less than 48 hours and unless weather conditions change, the town of K., located on the edge of the forest, will be engulfed in flames too’

    Julie Bouchard, a Montreal native and current resident, has released two collections of short stories and a novel over the last decade with La Pleine Lune, a Quebec-based publishing house. She was awarded the Radio-Canada Short Story Prize in both 2020 and 2021. She currently works in academic publishing.

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'Your Own Dear, Obedient Daughters'
    F.E. Choe
    Canada

    A plague of bodies descends upon a village. Will the community survive such a reckoning?

    ‘The grandmothers brush the dirt out of the dead women’s hair, wipe clean their faces, bathe and dress them in patchwork hanboks beaten and starched white. Some nights Ae-Cha slips silently into the icehouse alone. She sits for hours in the dark, fights off sleep and the cold ache in her hips as she tries to catch the women out.’

    F.E. Choe is a Canadian and Korean-American writer whose work has been published in Clarkesworld Magazine, The Moth Magazine, and Fractured Lit. She is a 2023 graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, Viable Paradise alum, and an Editor at 100 Word Story. Born in Toronto, Canada, she currently lives in the United States.

    Photo: Covington Hanley

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'Milk'
    Eaton Hamilton
    Canada

    Milk is fundamentally a story about love and hope in a milieu of deep poverty.

    ‘I trudged home from school through dirty snow and mud. The temps seesawed high and low, slicking the paths. I ripped off and handed Mama the paper stapled to the door, which I had failed to read.

    She marched to the kitchen in her hot pink robe and burned the paper inside a cooking pot inside the sink—crashes, bangs and curses–until it was nothing but black ash, and then she turned the tap right into it.’

    Eaton Hamilton is the autistic, disabled, queer and non-binary (they/them) author of books of cnf, memoir, fiction and poetry, including the 2016 novel WEEKEND. Their memoir NO MORE HURT was one of the Guardian’s Best Books of the Year and a Sunday Times bestseller. They are the two-time winner of Canada’s CBC Literary Award for fiction (2003/2014).

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'Sookie Woodrow Goes to Heaven'
    Ceilidh Michelle
    Canada

    A single mother named Sookie Woodrow believes God is using her to prophecy, but her desperation to transcend the hand she’s been dealt descends into madness.

    ‘Early morning sun revealed the dripping tap, the crooked shelves, a light bulb dangling from a wire. ‘So? What was Sookie talking to you about the other night?’ My mother strained to keep her voice light, tinkling her fingernails on the side of her mug. Smile tight as a rubber band.’

    Ceilidh Michelle is the author of Butterflies, Zebras, Moonbeams, published by Palimpsest Press and shortlisted for the Hugh MacLennan Award for Fiction. Her second book, Vagabond: Venice Beach, Slab City and Points In Between, was published by Douglas & McIntyre in September 2020. Her novella, Living Waters, was shortlisted in the Malahat Review’s Novella Prize, and she’s been listed twice by the CBC as an author to watch. Michelle has contributed to Maclean’s Magazine, Room, Saltwire, Long Reads, and others. She holds an MSc in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh.

  • 'The Devil’s Son'
    Portia Subran
    Trinidad and Tobago

    A song jolts the memory of a retired oil field worker, to a simpler time in Trinidad and Tobago, and forces him to re-live a dark secret he kept buried all these years. The Devil’s Son is set in the 1950s, where the Promethean tool of Electricity comes to the village of Chaguanas to pull them out of the darkness of night, and out of superstition.

    ‘That night, Mammy was protesting—I coulda hear she from the roadside. She didn’t like that they did set up a Devil’s Screen in the middle of Woodford Lodge Cricket Grounds, that we would all be gazing up at it.’

    Portia Subran is a writer and ink artist, from Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago. Her stories are inspired by her parents’ tales of colonial, and early post-colonial Trinidad, her experience, and Ole Talk gathered over the years. She is the winner of the 2019 Cecile de Jongh Literary Prize from the Caribbean Writer, and the 2016 Small Axe Literary Short Story Competition. She was a finalist for the 2022 BCLF Short Fiction Story Contest.

    Photo: @ravindraramkallawanphotography

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'Fadi'
    Azags Agandaa
    Ghana

    Fadi is a story about grief, disability, homelessness—and love, despite all the above. It follows Baba and his autistic daughter, Fadi, as they seek a safe home.

    ‘Fadi is growing tall and fat by day. He relishes eating the food, too, though he hates being pitied, fed, and treated as a beggar. He no longer feels disgusted eating with the left hand. He no longer retches eating with it as he’d done the earlier days after the right hand was cut off when he fell off the wall of the tall building he was painting.’

    Azags Agandaa is a Ghanaian writer whose collection of short stories, The Slummer’s Curse (2019) won the Ama Ata Aidoo Award 2nd Prize of the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW) Literary Awards. Aguriboma (2022), his poetry collection, also won the Kofi Awoonor’s Prize of the same Literary Awards. He teaches English and Literature at The Victoria Grammar School, Accra, and is currently completing his MPhil in Literature at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana.

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'House No. 49'
    Olajide Omojarabi
    Nigeria

    The arrival of a new scout in town dashes five boys’ dreams of playing football in England’s top-flight clubs.

    ‘Me and my teammates are behind, huddling around Celestine’s father. Even though Rising Stars didn’t fulfill their promise, new football academies will come to town again. We won’t lose our legs or arms to stampedes or gunshots. In protests, things happen too fast.’

    Olajide is an MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of South Florida. Recently he was the fiction editor at Saw Palm, and has published works in Guernica, Off Assignment, Barren magazine and elsewhere. He’s currently working on his debut novel.

    Photo: Chioma Owhor

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'A Song Sung in Secret'
    Jayne Bauling
    South Africa

    A chance encounter between long-lost acquaintances becomes the first step towards healing.

    ‘Another man behind the woman, standing. He looks as afflicted as you feel, overheated and fretful. Behind him, Solomzi. A mask and a hat, what do they call those hats? He was always a hat man. Between mask and hat, not much to see, except lines where he once was smooth.’

    Jayne Bauling is a South African writer best known for her youth novels which have won several awards. She also writes short stories and poetry, and has contributed to the FunDza Literacy Trust. Her tenth novel for youth, Things I Learned in the Forest, was published by the NB Publishers imprint Best Books in early 2023. She lives in White River, in the province of Mpumalanga.

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'The Goat'
    Jean Pierre Nikuze
    Rwanda

    ‘The Goat’ is about a woman whose newborn is stolen from the maternity ward, and her own unusual way of dealing with the loss, which is complicated by her relationship with a billy goat her husband bought as their son’s birth gift.

    ‘Achan’s hands trembled, releasing the contents inside them to the floor. She, too, suddenly feeling an urge to lay on the ground, slipped to the floor. Her back against a kitchen wall stained with smoke and cooking vapors, she wept. She wept and screamed so that the radio was no longer of any use, and if the doors had banged for the wind she would have missed it.’

    Jean Pierre Nikuze is a Rwandan who grew up in Kenya, and is currently residing in Vancouver, Canada, where he is attending graduate school at Regent College. A writer of stories, poems, and essays, Nikuze’s work has appeared in CalibanOnline, The Nonconformist Magazine, Agbowo, Hobart, Africasacountry, and elsewhere.

    Photo: Lorna Rande

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'The Marriage Proposal'
    Heather Archibald
    St Kitts and Nevis

    ‘The Marriage Proposal’ features an older woman, Adeline, who has agreed to raise the children of a couple who has moved to the United Kingdom with hopes to save money before they return to their Island home. Adeline’s attachment to the children means she must make sacrifices.

    ‘Adeline tensed slightly, but settled the baby on her right leg, enclosing her with her right hand. “Ok, Sweet English rose, Le’s take it easy now, eh.”

    “She’ll be okay,” the mother said quickly. She pulled from her bag an eight-ounce bottle which had about three ounces of formula left in it.’

    Heather Archibald, taught English in New York City and St. Kitts for thirty years. Her poetry collection Home-Home was published in 2016. She was a Callaloo fellow in poetry (2016) and received the BRIO award for fiction in 2018. Her short story, Sea-Stones for Angeline: A Fairy Tale was published in The Caribbean Writer (UVI) Summer 2020. Heather co-curates Creative Expressions NYC, an open-mic online poetry salon currently meeting first Sundays.

    Listen to the author talk about their submission
  • 'The Woman Upstairs'
    Audrey Tan
    Singapore

    This is a story about a girl who finds herself in a precarious situation. She becomes conscious of an unseen woman whom she feels connected to and protected by, even though she isn’t sure if the woman is a product of her own imagination.

    ‘Pei sat by the pool, rocking herself so she would stop shivering in her wet bra and shorts. She sat for a long time, watching the bougainvillaea and heliconia blazing among the dark bushes of the estate. As a child, she’d learnt what these tropical flowers were called.’

    Audrey Tan is a Singaporean writer, teacher and editor. Her stories have appeared in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Singapore Unbound, among others.

    Photo: Reginald Kent

    Listen to the author talk about their submission

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.