Commonwealth Short Story Prize2023
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000–5,000 words). Regional winners each receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000.
As well as English, stories are accepted in the Bengali, Chinese, French, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil, Turkish languages and Creole languages of the Commonwealth. Translated entries from any language into English are also eligible.
The competition is free to enter and open to any citizen of a Commonwealth country who is aged 18 and over.
Please check here for answers to frequently asked questions.
The 2024 prize will open for submissions on 1 September 2023.
Submissions are now closed for the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. We would like to thank everyone who submitted a short story. The selection process is now underway, you can view the judging panel below.
The shortlist for the 2023 prize will be announced in April, the regional winners in May and the overall winner in June 2023.
This year’s judging panel
Photo: Faizan Ahmad
Bilal Tanweer’s novel The Scatter Here Is Too Great (HarperCollins) won the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize and was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and the Chautauqua Prize (US). The novel has been translated into French and German. His translation of Muhammad Khalid Akhtar’s novel and stories was published as Love in Chakiwara and Other and received the PEN Translation Fund Grant. Bilal has also translated two novels by crime fiction writer, Ibn-e Safi, The House of Fear. His writings have appeared in local and international magazines including Granta, The New York Times, Dawn, and The Caravan. He lives and teaches in Lahore.
Photo: Abantu Book Festival
Rémy NgamijeJudge, African Region
Rémy Ngamije is a Rwandan-born Namibian writer and photographer. He is the founder, chairperson, and artministrator of Doek, an independent arts organisation in Namibia supporting the literary arts. He is also the editor-in-chief of Doek! Literary Magazine, the founder of the country’s only literary awards, the Bank Windhoek Doek Literary Awards, as well as the Doek Literary Festival, Namibia’s first international literary festival. Rémy is also the founding editor of the Doek Anthology, forthcoming in 2022. His debut novel The Eternal Audience Of One was first published in South Africa by Blackbird Books and is available worldwide from Scout Press (S&S); it was honoured with a Special Mention at the inaugural Grand Prix Panafricain De Litterature in 2022. He won the Africa Regional Prize of the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and was shortlisted for the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing in 2021 and 2020. He was longlisted and shortlisted for the 2020 and 2021 Afritondo Short Story Prizes respectively. In 2019 he was shortlisted for Best Original Fiction by Stack Magazines.
Ameena HusseinJudge, Asian Region
Ameena Hussein is a Sri Lankan author and co-founder of the Perera-Hussein Publishing House, the frontrunner for cutting-edge literature from emerging and established regional authors. Her non-fiction book on the fourteenth century Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta, Chasing Tall Tales and Mystics: Ibn Battuta in Sri Lanka published end 2020 won the State Literary Prize for Humanities and was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Prize. Her novel The Moon in the Water was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Award and the Dublin IMPAC. Her debut short story collection Fifteen was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Prize in 1999 and her second collection of short stories Zillij won the State Literary Prize in 2005. A Fellow of WrICE, writer digital residency and cultural exchange 2020 as well as being a fellow of the prestigious International Writer’s Program at the Iowa University (2005), she has been invited to teach at the University of Iowa creative writing Summer programs in 2016 and 2018.
Photo: Douglas Fry for Brackendale Consulting
Katrina BestJudge, Canada and Europe Region
Katrina Best is a British-Canadian author whose first book of short stories (Bird Eat Bird, Insomniac Press) won the 2011 regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Canada and the Caribbean region). After two decades in Canada (based first in Vancouver, then Montreal) working primarily in the film and television industry, Katrina moved back to the UK with her family a few years ago, settling in the East Sussex countryside near Brighton. She continues to freelance as a writer, editor and story/ script consultant and is currently at work on her first novel.
Mac Donald DixonJudge, Caribbean Region
Mac Donald Dixon was born in Saint Lucia, West Indies. At sixteen, browsing through shelves at the St. Mary’s college library, he stumbled on ‘Twenty-Five Poems’ by Derek Walcott and knew from that moment he would write. Despite having written several short stories and plays and novels, he is best known for his poetry. He is also an accomplished dramatist, painter, and photographer.In 1994, his country honored him with the Saint Lucia medal of merit for his contribution to literature and photography, and in 2005 he was awarded Saint Lucia’s Cultural Development Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. Dixon works as a full-time writer from his home in Castries.
Dr. Selina Tusitala MarshJudge, Pacific Region
Selina Tusitala Marsh (ONZM, FRSNZ) is the former Commonwealth Poet, New Zealand Poet Laureate and acclaimed performer and author. In 2019 she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to poetry, literature and the Pacific community. In 2020 Selina was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Selina lectures in the English Department at the University of Auckland where she teaches Pacific Literature and Creative Writing. Selina has performed poetry for primary schoolers and presidents, queers and Queens. She has published three critically acclaimed collections of poetry, Fast Talking PI (2009), Dark Sparring (2013), Tightrope (2017). Her graphic memoir, Mophead (2019), won the Margaret Mahy Supreme Book in the 2020 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and won the PANZ Best Book Design for 2020. Its sequel, Mophead TU: The Queen’s Poem was shortlisted for the NZ Book Awards (2021). She has just completed Mophead: KNOT Book 3 and is working on a genre-bending graphic poetry anthology on first wave Pacific women poets from 16 Pacific Island nations.
Frequently asked questions
Who is eligible to submit?
All citizens of all Commonwealth countries – please see the full list here. It does not matter where you live as long as you are a citizen of a Commonwealth country. Should you be successful, you will need to prove confirmation of citizenship.
Holders of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards are not eligible, unless they also hold a passport from a Commonwealth member country.
Dual citizens are eligible, as long as one of the countries is a member of the Commonwealth
Are there any age restrictions?
The prize is open to all citizens aged 18 and over. There is no upper age limit.
In what languages do you accept entries?
Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Greek, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, Tamil, and Turkish
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.
What do the winning writers receive?
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