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Meet the 2016 Short Story Prize Judges

Posted on 30/09/2015
By Commonwealth Foundation

The 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize Judges 

The 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize judging panel is chaired by Gillian Slovo.

Each year our judges select five winning writers from five different Commonwealth regions who share a total prize money of £15,000. The overall winner receives £5,000, one of the highest amounts for an international short story prize open to unpublished writers. Regional winners receive £2,500. All stories submitted are unpublished, but published writers are also eligible to apply.

The 2016 Shortlist was announced on Thursday 31 March.

The Regional Winners will be announced on Wednesday 4 May and the Overall Winner of the Prize will be announced in June 2016.


Image by Charlie Hopkinson

Gillian Slovo was born in South Africa and now lives in London. Her thirteen published books include five detective novels, a family memoir, Every Secret Thing, and a thriller.  Her novel, Red Dust, set around a fictional  hearing of  South Africa’s  Truth and Reconciliation Commission, won the prix RFI-Témoin du monde in France and was  made into a feature film.  Her novel Ice Road was shortlisted for the Orange Prize.  Her plays include Guantanamo – Honor Bound to Defend Freedom (co-authored with Victoria Brittain) and The Riots. Her next novel, Ted Days, will be published in March 2016. Slovo was President of English PEN from 2010 to 2013 and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.





Image by Heike Steinweg

Helon Habila is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University, USA. He worked in Lagos as a journalist before moving to England in 2002. His novels include Waiting for an Angel (2002), Measuring Time (2007), and Oil on Water (2010). In 2006 he co-edited the British Council’s anthology, New Writing 14. He also edited the Granta Book of African Short Story (2011). Habila’s novels, poems and short stories have won many honours and awards, including the regional Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel, the Caine Prize, and the Windham-Campbell Prize.  Habila has been a contributing editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review since 2004, and is a regular reviewer for the Guardian, UK.





Image by Nat Hill

Pierre J. Mejlak is a writer from Malta, who has been living in Belgium since 2004. His latest collection of short stories, Having Said Goodnight, won the European Union Prize for Literature in 2014 and is being translated into eight languages. His work, which includes a novel, two short story collections and a number of books for children, earned him the Malta National Book Award and the Sea of Words European Short Story Contest.






Image by Caroline Forbes

Olive Senior is the prizewinning author of 15 books of fiction, poetry, non-fiction and children’s literature. She won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for her first short-story collection, Summer Lightning. Her novel Dancing Lessons was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize, the First Novel Award, was a Globe Best Book and was long listed for the IMPAC Dublin International Prize. Her latest non-fiction work, Dying to Better Themselves: West Indians and the Building of the Panama Canal has already garnered several prizes. Senior conducts writing workshops internationally and is on the faculty of the Humber School for Writers, Toronto.





Image by Chris Hyde/Fairfax Media

Patrick Holland is an Australian writer who grew up working cattle and horses on the western plains of Queensland. He is the international award-winning writer of the novels The Mary Smokes Boys and The Darkest Little Room, the short story collection The Source of the Sound, and a volume of travel essays, Riding the Trains in Japan. His forthcoming novel, One, charts the final days of Australia’s last bushrangers, Jim and Paddy Kenniff, who ranged the country where Holland spent his childhood. He lives and writes between Saigon, Brisbane and Beijing.






Firdous Azim is a Professor of English at BRAC University and a member of Naripokkho, the woman’s activist group in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She has written and published widely on literature and feminist issues. Her publications include The Colonial Rise of the Novel (1993), and the edited volume Infinite Variety: Women in Society and Literature (1995). More recently she has edited special issues, South Asian Feminisms: Negotiating New Terrains for Feminist Review (March 2009) and Complex Terrrains: Islam, Culture and Women for Inter-Asia Cultural Studies (August 2011). She is currently researching Muslim women’s writing in early twentieth-century Bengal.