We have announced the five regional winning Commonwealth Short Story Prize stories Learn more

2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Posted on 02/10/2015
By Commonwealth Foundation
Regional Winners The Shortlist Judges

Overall and Regional Winner, 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Jonathan Tel wins 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Jonathan Tel accepting his award in London, Marlborough House, September 2015

“The one thing that fiction is so wonderful about, certainly ever since the modern novel was invented, is getting inside people’s heads …. Everything I write is imagined, but I feel I’m giving it some kind of truth."
Jonathan Tel

Jonathan Tel interviewed by BBC broadcaster and journalist Razia Iqbal

Overall Winner and Regional Winner, Canada and Europe

The Human Phonograph, Jonathan Tel (UK)

A woman is reunited with her geologist husband at a remote nuclear base in the remote North-West of China during the 1960s.

Jonathan Tel is writing a fiction book set in contemporary China. It is composed of ten chapters, each of which may be read as an independent story, but which link together to form a novel. The winning story is extracted from this work. The opening chapter, ‘The Shoe King of Shanghai’ was shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Award 2014. He is looking for a publisher for this book. He is also writing a book of poems about Berlin.

Other Regional Winners

Regional Winner, Africa

Light, Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria)

A mother’s absence grows the bond between a father and his daughter. But when the world weighs in, the ties that bind them together begin to fray.

LesleyLesley Nneka Arimah grew up in Nigeria and the UK. She currently resides in the US in the state of Minnesota where she spends the winters in hiding, working on a novel and a collection of short stories.

Regional Winner, Pacific

Famished Eels, Mary Rokonadravu (Fiji)

She is off the coast of Lifou in New Caledonia counting sea urchins when her father suffers a stroke. He is the keeper and teller of stories, now he calls on her to finish his task.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMary Rokonadravu is Communications Manager at WWF-Pacific based in Suva, Fiji. She finds inspiration in the lives of ordinary people and communities, particularly untold stories of people in the frontlines of climate change and environmental degradation in the Pacific islands region. She believes in the power of culture and the arts, particularly storytelling, to inspire transformation in society. She loves cats.


The King of Settlement 4, Kevin Jared Hosein

In Trinidad, two friends, Bug and Foster, decide to drop out of school to work for a gang leader calling himself the King. But when the King shows himself, their friendship quickly deteriorates.

Kevin Hussein 200x133Kevin Jared Hosein is a poet, writer and science teacher in Trinidad and Tobago and a graduate of the University of the West Indies. He illustrated and published a book for younger audiences, Littletown Secrets, in 2013. His short stories have been featured in Caribbean anthologies such as Pepperpot and Jewels of the Caribbean.

The Umbrella Man, by Siddhartha Gigoo

An inmate, living in an asylum, yearns for rain. All he possesses is an umbrella. His only friend is a puny fellow. Then one day the man is set free.

Siddhartha-Gigoo-200x133Siddhartha Gigoo is the author of two books of fiction, The Garden of Solitude (2011) and A Fistful of Earth and Other Stories (2015). He has also written and directed two short films, The Last Day  and Goodbye, Mayfly. As a student, his two books of poems, Fall and Other Poems and Reflections were published by Writer’s Workshop, Kolkata, India.

2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize Shortlist

‘We had a strong short-list of stories from around the world that excited the judges and provoked a lively, stimulating set of discussions. The judges were looking for well-crafted stories that were compelling and original. The standards were high. We wanted stories that would engage us and make us rethink our notions of form, language and what mattered. The winning stories did all of that and more. Thank you, writers.’
Romesh Gunesekera Chair, 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Aadi v the World, Rachel Stevenson (United Kingdom)

April with Oyundi, Alexander Ikawah (Kenya)

Cindy’s Class, Alecia McKenzie (Jamaica)

Corrango, Jennifer Mills (Australia)

Famished Eels, Mary Rokonadravu (Fiji)

How to Pronounce Knife, Souvankham Thammavongsa (Canada)

Left, Jayne Bauling (South Africa)

Legs of Thunder, Fred Khumalo (South Africa)

Light, Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria)

Madness, Toodesh Ramesar (Trinidad and Tobago)

Novostroïka, Maria Reva (Canada)

Old Honey, Jessica White (Australia)

Pilgrimage, Amina Farah (Canada)

Since We Never Met, Steve Charters (New Zealand)

Tattoo, Susan Yardley (Australia)

The Death of A Valley, Meenakshi Gautam Chaturvedi (India)

The Human Phonograph, Jonathan Tel (United Kingdom)

The Itch, Muthoni wa Gichuru (Kenya)

The King of Settlement 4, Kevin Jared Hosein (Trinidad and Tobago)

The Umbrella Man, Siddhartha Gigoo (India)

This is How the Ecosystem Works, Shahnaz Habib (India)

Zoe, Darren Doyle (Trinidad and Tobago)

2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize Judges

Chair: Romesh Gunesekera

Romesh Gunesekera, Judge 2015CSSPRomesh Gunesekera was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Britain in the early 1970s. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he is the author of eight books of fiction. His novel Reef was short-listed for the 1994 Booker Prize. His new collection of stories set in post-war Sri Lanka, Noontide Toll, was published by Granta in 2014 along with a 20th anniversary edition of his first novel Reef. Twitter: @RomeshG

Leila Aboulela’s latest novel Lyrics Alley (2010) was the Fiction Winner of the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Awards. It was long-listed for the Orange Prize and short-listed for the S. Asia and Europe Region in the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. Her previous novels The Translator (1999), a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Minaret (2005) were longlisted for the Orange Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Award. Leila was awarded the Caine Prize for African Writing for ‘The Museum’ included in her story collection Coloured Lights (2001). Her work has been translated into 14 languages.

Fred D’Aguiar was born in London of Guyanese parents and grew up in Guyana. His twelve books include novels, poems and plays. His latest novel, inspired by events at Jonestown, Guyana, is Children of Paradise (2014). Fred teaches at Virginia Tech in the United States. Twitter: @VTPOET


Witi Ihimaera is a New Zealand novelist, short story writer, film producer and teacher. In 1973 he became the first Maori novelist with Tangi, and won a Commonwealth regional prize for The Matriarch in 1987. His book The Whale Rider was made into a successful international film in 2002. His memoir Maori Boy, will be released in November 2014 in New Zealand.

Bina Shah is a Karachi-based author of four novels,  including her most recent book A Season of Martyrsand two collections of short stories. A regular contributor to The International New York Times and a frequent guest on the BBC, she has contributed essays and op-eds to Al Jazeera, Granta, The Independent, and The Guardian, and writes a regular column for Dawn, the top English-language newspaper in Pakistan. Twitter: @BinaShah

Marina Endicott worked as an actor and director before turning to fiction. Marina’s novels and stories have been serialized on CBC Radio, and she’s had three plays produced. Her novel Good to a Fault was a finalist for the Canada’s Giller Prize and was a regional winner of the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book. Her novel Close to Hugh is released in 2015. Twitter: @marinaendicott