2013 Commonwealth Literary Prize shortlists

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Book Prize is awarded for the best first novel, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the best piece of unpublished short fiction.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 31 May 2013.

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. The overall and regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize will have the opportunity to have their story edited and published by Granta online. The literary prize judges are here.

Political, religious and social conflict runs through many of this year’s shortlisted entries, but there are also humorous stories, stories of hope, and stories full of imagination and power. The unmatched 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 a span of 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 14 May 2013.

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.’


Commonwealth Book Prize

Sarah House, Ifeanyi Ajaegbo (Nigeria), Pan Macmillan South Africa

Disposable People, Ezekel Alan (Jamaica), self-published

Floundering, Romy Ash (Australia), Text Publishing

Running the Rift, Naomi Benaron (Canada), HarperCollins Canada

Mazin Grace, Dylan Coleman (Australia), University of Queensland Press

A Tiger in Eden, Chris Flynn (Australia), Text Publishing

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Howard Fry, Rachel Joyce (United Kingdom), Transworld Publishers

The Headmaster's Wager, Vincent Lam (Canada), Doubleday Canada

Island of a Thousand Mirrors, Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka), Perera-Hussein Publishing House

The Death of Bees, Lisa O'Donnell (United Kingdom), William Heinemann

The Spider King's Daughter, Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria), Faber and Faber

Em and the Big Hoom, Jerry            Pinto (India), Aleph Book Company

The Wildings, Nilanjana Roy (India), Aleph Book Company

The Great Agony & Pure Laughter of the Gods, Jamala Safari (South Africa), Umuzi

The Last Thread, Michael Sala (Australia), Affirm

The Other Side of Light, Mishi Saran (India), HarperCollins India

God on Every Wind, Farhad Sorabjee (India), Parthian

Sterile Sky, E.E. Sule (Nigeria), Pearson Education

Narcopolis, Jeet Thayil (India), Faber and Faber

Beneath the Darkening Sky, Majok Tulba (Australia), Penguin Books Australia

The Bellwether Revivals, Benjamin Wood (United Kingdom), Simon & Schuster UK


Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Not for Publication, Rachel Bush (New Zealand)

A Killing in the Sun, Dilman Dila (Uganda)

NORMAL, Susan Everett (United Kingdom)

Chutney, Debz Hobs-Wyatt (United Kingdom)

Fatima Saleh, Alexander Ikawah (Kenya)

The New Customers, Julian Jackson (South Africa)

Notes from the Ruins, Anushka Jasraj (India)

A Good Friday, Barbara Jenkins (Trinidad and Tobago)

Antonya's Baby Shower on Camperdown Road, A.L. Major (Bahamas)

Mango Summer, Janice Lynn (Bahamas)

Things With Faces, Zoë Meager (New Zealand)

The Sarong-Man in the Old House, and an Incubus for a Rainy Night, Michael Mendis (Sri Lanka)

The Whale House, Sharon Millar (Trinidad and Tobago)

No War is Worth Debating, Tobenna Nwosu (Nigeria)

Take me Home United Road, Sally-Ann Partridge (South Africa)

Mortal Sins, Sinead Roarty (Australia)

We Walked On Water, Eliza Robertson (Canada)

Tug of War, Deborah Rogers             (New Zealand)

Raven, Tom Williams (Australia)

For media enquiries please contact Carrie Rees, carrie@reeshutchinson.com, +44 (0) 77 63 70 83 46 or Claire Turner, Communications Manager at the Commonwealth Foundation c.turner@commonwealth.int / +44 (0) 20 7747 6522.


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