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2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Posted on 04/05/2016
By Commonwealth Foundation
Regional Winners The Shortlist Judges

Parashar Kulkarni has been announced as the overall winner for the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for his story ‘Cow and Company’. The award was presented by Man Booker Prize Winner and former short story judge Marlon James at the Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica on 5 June.

The 2016 Prize attracted nearly 4000 entries from 47 countries. The global judging panel, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth – Helon Habila (Africa), Firdous Azim (Asia), Pierre Mejlak (Canada and Europe) Olive Senior (Caribbean), and Patrick Holland (Pacific) selected Indian author Parashar Kulkarni as the overall winner of the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for his story ‘Cow and Company’.

Winner Parashar Kulkarni with Marlon James – photo Laura Dowrich

"I am very happy to receive the Commonwealth Short Story Prize which provides an inclusive, accessible and international platform for participation which is particularly helpful for new writers.”
Parashar Kulkarni

You can read ‘Cow and Company’ as well as all the other winning stories, on Granta online.

Overall Winner and Asia Regional Winner – ‘Cow and Company’ by Parashar Kulkarni (India)

Gillian Slovo talks to the 2016 overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize - Parashar Kulkarni.

'Cow and Company' is available to read on Granta now.

‘Cow and Company’ is about four men in search of a cow. Eventually they do find one and take her to their office. It is part of a larger project set in colonial India.

Read here

Regional Winners

Regional Winner, Pacific

Black Milk, Tina Makereti

An otherworldly woman is sent to Earth to try and help humans, but loses touch with her own people. Eventually despair drives her away from her purpose, but even dark times hold riches within them.

Listen to Tina discuss ‘Black Milk’ with Patrick Holland.

Tina MakeretiTina Makereti writes essays, novels and short stories. Her novel, Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings (Vintage, 2014) has been longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award and won the 2014 Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Book Award for Fiction, also won by her short story collection, Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa in 2011.

Regional Winner, Africa

The Pigeon, Faraaz Mahomed

The story of a brief and turbulent affair, reflected through the narrator’s close relationship with a peculiar confidant..

Listen to Faraaz discuss ‘The Pigeon’ with Helon Habila.

287Faraaz Mahomed is a clinical psychologist and human rights researcher based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He also holds academic fellowships with the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg. A former Fulbright scholar, Faraaz’s writing is largely academic in nature, having published several journal articles relating to human rights.

Regional Winner, Canada and Europe

Eel, Stefanie Seddon

On the West Coast of 1920s New Zealand, a boy battles eels and older brothers on a quest for independence.

Listen to Stefanie discuss ‘Eel’ with Pierre Mejlak.

SS-42 (2)Stefanie Seddon grew up on a farm in New Zealand and moved to the UK after completing a degree in English Literature at the University of Otago.  Stefanie is currently studying the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, and is working on a novel inspired by the high country landscapes and rural communities of her native New Zealand.

Regional Winner, Caribbean

Ethelbert and the Free Cheese, Lance Dowrich

Ethelbert, son of Tantie Lucy, lives in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago and has committed himself to his working class job in a deliberate attempt to mask his loneliness and loveless life. In a chance encounter he recognizes the power of cheese to win him love, status and a brand new life.

Listen to Lance discuss ‘Ethelbert and the Free Cheese’ with Olive Senior.

lance picLance Dowrich is a learning and development professional who has been teaching and training for over 28 years. He is the Principal and CEO of a post-secondary technical school in Trinidad and Tobago. He credits his passion for reading to his father Learie Dowrich and to a wonderful home where many clowns resided and where there was non-stop chatter.


“As a novelist accustomed to the luxury of the long form it has been a treat to discover writers who manage to crystallise such different experiences into so few words. The stories we have chosen for the shortlist are in turn comic, touching, poetic, mysterious but always fresh and unexpected.”
Gillian Slovo, Chair, 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Aabirah, Sophia Khan (Pakistan)

A Visitation, Jane Healey (United Kingdom)

Black Milk, Tina Makereti (New Zealand)

Charmed, Jane Downing (Australia)

Children of the Zocalo, Don McLellan (Canada)

Confluence, Nova Gordon-Bell (Jamaica)

Cow and Company, Parashar Kulkarni (India)

Dirty White Strings, Kritika Pandey (India)

Eel, Stefanie Seddon (United Kingdom)

Ethelbert and the Free Cheese, Lance Dowrich (Trinidad and Tobago)

Exorcism, Lausdeus Chiegboka (Nigeria)

Girdhar’s Mansion, Sumit Ray (India)

Imbecile, Craig S Whyte (United Kingdom)

Instant Karma, Vinayak Varma (India)

Kurram Valley, Munib A Khan (Pakistan)

Niroporadh Ghum (Innocent Sleep), Sumon Rahman (Bangladesh)  – Translated by Arunava Sinha

Saving Obadiah, Enyeribe Ibegwam (Nigeria)

Space Invaders, Stuart Snelson (United Kingdom)

The Driver, Oyinkan Braithwaite (Nigeria)

The Entomologist’s Dream, Andrew Salomon (South Africa)

The Pigeon, Faraaz Mahomed (South Africa)

This Here Land, Miranda Luby (Australia)

This is How We Burn, Cat Hellisen (South Africa)

Vestigial, Trent Lewin (Canada)

When I Came Home, Mark Winkler (South Africa)

Where Mountains Weep, Bonnie Etherington (New Zealand)


Chair: Gillian Slovo

Gillian slovo CROPPED
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.

No image is to be copied duplicated modified or redistributed in whole or part without the prior written permission from Heike Steinweg mail@heikesteinweg.de
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.

Olive Senior
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 Amazon.ca 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 Canalhas already garnered several prizes. Senior conducts writing workshops internationally and is on the faculty of the Humber School for Writers, Toronto.

pholland writer
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 AzimFirdous 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.