Regional winners announced 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize

14/05/13

The Commonwealth Foundation has announced the regional winners for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Representing Africa, Asia, Canada & Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific regions, these writers will now compete to become the overall winner, to be announced at Hay Festival UK on 31 May.

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Book Prize is awarded for the best first novel, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the best piece of unpublished short fiction.

Part of Commonwealth Writers, the prizes unearth, develop and promote the best of new writing from across the Commonwealth, developing literary connections worldwide and consistently bringing less-heard voices to the fore. The cultural breadth of stories from this year’s regional winners includes Sri Lanka on the eve of independence from British Colonial rule, the Socialist regime of 1970s Jamaica, and a South Africa riven by apartheid.

Commonwealth Book Prize

Regional Winner, Africa
Sterile Sky, E.E. Sule (Nigeria), Pearson Education

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

Regional Winner, Canada & Europe
The Death of Bees, Lisa O'Donnell (United Kingdom), William Heinemann

Regional Winner, Caribbean
Disposable People, Ezekel Alan (Jamaica), self-published

Regional Winner, Pacific
The Last Thread, Michael Sala (Australia), Affirm Press

Commenting on the winners, Chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Godfrey Smith said, “Choosing the regional winners from among the 21 shortlisted books was a rewarding journey across diverse cultures, through soaring - sometimes shocking - imaginations, movingly connecting us with a fascinating range of human situations. The five regional winners are an impressive mixture of bold, ambitious, powerfully descriptive and emotionally riveting writing that will leave us with a deeper appreciation and understanding of our world.”

Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Regional Winner, Africa
The New Customers, Julian Jackson (South Africa)

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

Regional Winner, Canada & Europe
We Walked On Water, Eliza Robertson (Canada)

Regional Winner, Caribbean
The Whale House, Sharon Millar (Trinidad and Tobago)

Regional Winner, Pacific
Things with Faces, Zoë Meager (New Zealand)

Chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Razia Iqbal said, “The short story is among the hardest forms to master. The five stories we chose as regional winners all pass the judges' tests of capturing a distinctive tone; creating fulsome characters; always deft in showing, not telling; subject matter both intimate and personal, as well as ranging across political landscapes. Reading them will transport you, as all good literature does, and introduce you to voices we are sure you will hear again.”

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 during the week commencing 27 May. 

John Freeman, Editor of Granta said: “The Commonwealth Short Story Prize searches across a vast territory with relentless curiosity to select the brightest new talent from each region, and this year is stronger than ever. With voices that arrest, affirm, disturb and illuminate, this new crop of writers turn our expectations for what a story can do, and of where they are calling from, inside out. This partnership is an example of what the magazine can be at best – a beacon for those writers we didn’t know we were missing out on – and we salute Commonwealth Writers in their continuing good work.”

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