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Jamaican author makes shortlist for Commonwealth Book Prize

Published:Wednesday | April 17, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Ezekel Alan, a Jamaican author, is among those shortlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize.

Alan was named in the category for his effort Disposable People. The self-published effort joins 19 others on the list.

The Commonwealth Foundation, which administers the prize, also announced a shortlist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Part of Commonwealth Writers, the prizes unearth, develop and promote the best new writing from across the Commonwealth, developing literary connections worldwide.

The Commonwealth Book Prize is awarded for the best first novel, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the best piece of unpublished short fiction.

Writers from around the world have been shortlisted in anticipation of being announced as overall winners at Hay Festival on May 31.

Political, religious and social conflicts run through many of this year's shortlisted entries, but there are also humorous stories, stories of hope, and stories full of imagination and power.

GLOBAL REACH

The global reach of the prizes allows readers internationally to engage with a world of literature that might otherwise remain undiscovered, consistently bringing less-heard voices to the fore.

Encompassing 54 countries, entries are judged within the five regions of Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific, each of which will produce a regional winner for the two prizes. These will be announced on May 14.

The prizes' judging panels are made up of eminent members of the international literary community.

Commenting on the shortlisted entries, chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, BBC Special Correspondent Razia Iqbal, said:

"People often assume short stories are easier to write because they're, well, short! But it takes a particular skill to establish mood, character and tone in quick strokes, and tell a story which leaves a lasting impression. These stories open windows on worlds which seem familiar but, through fiction, which is tightly written, reflect those worlds, in richer and more surprising colours."

Chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Godfrey Smith, said:

"Our five judges did an admirable job of shortlisting from a bountiful harvest of debut novels, based on originality, linguistic flair, depth, quality of writing and freshness of tone. A number of books boldly pushed the boundaries of form and explosively rebelled against the conventional structures of fiction writing, inspiring lively and passionate debates among the judges."

The winner of the Commonwealth Book Prize receives £10,000, with regional winners receiving £2,500. The winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize receives £5,000, with regional winners receiving £1,000. For more information visit www.commonwealthwriters.org.