Wed | Apr 25, 2018

Regional winners announced in 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Published:Sunday | May 8, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Commonwealth Writers has announced the regional winners for this year's Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The five stories have risen to the top of the 4,000 entries received this year. The regional winners will now compete to be selected as the Overall Winner of the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, to be announced at the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica on June 5 when Man Booker Prize Winner and former judge Marlon James will present the prize.

Lucy Hannah, programme manager, Commonwealth Writers, said: "We share the spirit of Calabash, a festival which celebrates community as well as great writing and new writers alongside established names. Calabash is one of the most unique literary festivals in the world and we are privileged to be part of it."


Generous gesture


Calabash's artistic director, Kwame Dawes, commented:

"In one generous gesture of righteous collaboration, Commonwealth Writers has given Calabash exactly the kind of gift that our audience relishes: an opportunity to enjoy and celebrate the best new writing from around the world. We are honoured and excited to be the stage on which this announcement will be made."

In its fifth year, the prize is for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English. The prize is judged by an international panel of writers, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. The 2016 judges are Helon Habila (Africa), Firdous Azim (Asia), Pierre Mejlak (Canada and Europe), Olive Senior (the Caribbean), and Patrick Holland (the Pacific).

South African novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo said of the winners:

"From Faraaz Mahomed's The Pigeon, with its playful tone and unreliable narrator, Parashar Kulkarni's Cow and Company, a witty satire that engagingly immerses the reader in its world, and Eel, a simply told and moving story of

childhood by Stefanie Seddon to Lance Dowrich's comedic Ethelbert and the Free Cheese and Tina Makereti's Black Milk, which impressed with a lyricism that takes the reader into another world while keeping us always on Earth, these were all worthy winners and show how well the short story is flourishing in the Commonwealth."


Varied subjects


The five stories from the five regions cover very different subject matter: coming of age in New Zealand; a culture in twilight; an advertising campaign for chewing gum in 1920s India; love and guilt in South Africa; and a tale of life and work exuberantly told in the language of Trinidad.

Commonwealth Writers has partnered with Granta magazine to give regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize the opportunity to be published by Granta online.

The stories will be published every Wednesday from today until June 1.

Granta's online editor, Luke Neima, said:

"We here at Granta are delighted to be entering a fifth year of partnership with the Commonwealth Prize, which puts a much-needed spotlight on emerging writers from around the world. Each year, the prize announces a fresh and startling new crop of talent, and we're always proud to share them with our readers."

A conversation between the regional judge and the regional winner will be available as a podcast on the Commonwealth Writers website.


Regional winners:



Faraaz Mahomed, The Pigeon, South Africa


Parashar Kulkarni,

Cow and Company, India

Canada and Europe

Stefanie Seddon, Eel,

United Kingdom


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


Tina Makereti, Black Milk, New Zealand

Commonwealth Writers is also working with the

literary agents Aitken Alexander

Associates Ltd identifying writers through this year's prize, which is part funded by the Sigrid Rausing Trust.