Monday, May 28, 2018

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize Shortlist

Twenty-four outstanding stories have been selected by an international judging panel from 5182 entries from 48 Commonwealth countries. The writers come from 14 countries including, for the first time, Samoa and Ghana.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English from the Commonwealth. As well as being open to entries translated into English from any language, it is the only literary prize in the world where entries can be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, and Tamil. Again, in 2018, we’re delighted that a translated story has reached the shortlist. The inclusion of other languages in the Prize speaks to Commonwealth Writers’ recognition of the need for linguistic diversity to promote the richness of varied literary traditions and lesser-heard narratives.

The 24 entries have earned their place on the shortlist - a rich collection of stori es showcasing the skill and talent of the writers and capturing the attention of the judges. Chair of the judges, award-winning novelist and short story writer Sarah Hall, said of this year’s shortlist:

The versatility and power of the short story is abundantly clear in this shortlist. With such a range of subject, style, language and imagination, it is clear what a culturally important and relevant form it is, facilitating many different creative approaches, many voices and versions of life. 

With a panel of judges also spanning the globe there was a sense of depth and breadth to the selection process, and each commonwealth region showcases the very best of its traditions, adaptations, and contemporary approaches. 

This is such a great, unique prize, one that seeks to uphold both literary community and particularity, crossing borders with the ambition of collating our common and unique stories. It is an enormous pleasure, and illuminating, to have been part of the reading process. 

The Prize is judged by an international panel of writers, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. The 2018 judges are Damon Galgut (Africa), Sunila Galappatti (Asia), Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm (Canada and Europe) Mark McWatt(Caribbean) and Paula Morris (Pacific).

The 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize Shortlist in full:
  • ‘Dancing with Ma’, Harriet Anena (Uganda)
  • ‘Matalasi’, Jenny Bennett-Tuionetoa (Samoa)
  • ‘An Elephant in Kingston’, Marcus Bird (Jamaica)
  • ‘Tahiti’, Brendan Bowles (Canada)
  • ‘Ghillie’s Mum’, Lynda Clark (United Kingdom)
  • ‘Goat’, Sally Craythorne (United Kingdom)
  • ‘The Divine Pregnancy in a Twelve-Year-Old Woman’, Sagnik Datta (India)
  • ‘Soundtracker’, Christopher Evans (Canada)
  • ‘Passage’, Kevin Hosein (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • ‘Jyamitik Zadukor’ (The Geometric Wizard) by Imran Khan (Bangladesh) translated by Arunava Sinha
  • ‘Talk of The Town’, Fred Khumalo (South Africa)
  • ‘Night Fishing’, Karen Kwek (Singapore)
  • ‘Nobody’s Wife’, Chris Mansell (Australia)
  • ‘The Boss’, Breanne Mc Ivor (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • ‘Holding On, Letting Go’, Sandra Norsen (Australia)
  • ‘Empathy,’ Cheryl Ntumy (Ghana)
  • ‘A Girl Called Wednesday’, Kritika Pandey (India)
  • ‘Chicken Boy’, Lynne Robertson (New Zealand)
  • ‘Hitler Hates You’, Michelle Sacks (South Africa)
  • ‘After the Fall’, James Smart (United Kingdom)
  • ‘Son Son’s Birthday’, Sharma Taylor (Jamaica)
  • ‘Berlin Lends a Hand’, Jonathan Tel (United Kingdom)
  • ‘True Happiness’, Efua Traoré (Nigeria)
  • ‘Juju’, Obi Umeozor (Nigeria)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Smiles from 35,000 ft

The lines blurred over teary eyes
As yesterday's sentences crawled through the crenels of a hypnic-jerk mind

Afraid to think of things the world taboos
Yet bold to defend it resolutely in conversation with itself

As I looked down from the roof of the earth
I recreated your little cheeks swelling with laughter... the twilight twinkles in those tiny eyes...

We may have endlessly, hopelessly fallen into this thing which has for years written itself into society's hypocritical epithet
And we may have to ball it up and dump it in their dump-truck...
Or timidly follow their path and forever hide this primal base from their accusatory eyes, away from:

Them who hide their dangling scrotums in hideous togases to deceive naive maidens
Them who walk the shore to rebuke the footprints of yesterday's memories
Them who cast stones from behind books and creeds...

But tell me, how does one bury a sailing cork?
Why should one pluck a smile from 35,000ft and smash it aground?
Is it love if it must be expressed within the dark crevices of the moon?

December 10, 2017
On Air Côte d'Ivoire en route to Dakar, Sénégal.
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