Two Jamaicans have been named among several Caribbean authors shortlisted for the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
The authors of the stories that have passed the initial stage of the competition are Alexia Tolas from the Bahamas; Cosmata Lindie from Guyana; Demoy Lindo and Kwame McPherson from Jamaica as well as Deborah Matthews from Trinidad and Tobago.
A team of international judges selected the stories from a shortlist of 28 excellent stories for one the most prestigious literary award in the world.
The selected authors’ ages span from 20 to 74 consisting of ten men and 18 women.
The shortlisted entries cover a range of topics, including disease, human trafficking, decay, relationships, and hope, as well as family secrets, generational differences, bittersweet friendships, and navigating the workplace.
The shortlisted writers are from 19 Commonwealth nations. Through their writing the authors cover a wide range of genres, including crime, historical fiction, and speculative fiction.
Each year, one of the 56 member states of the Commonwealth is given the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the finest unpublished short story.
In addition to English, submissions may also be entered in Bengali, Chinese, Creole, French, Greek, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, Tamil, and Turkish, making it the most approachable and worldwide of all literary contests.
The complexity of the Commonwealth, including its numerous and different literary traditions, is somewhat reflected in the language variety of a short story competition. A total of 475 submissions were made in languages other than English in 2023.
OVER SIX THOUSAND SUBMISSIONS
From a total of 6,642 submissions from 56 Commonwealth nations, including the two newest members of the Commonwealth, Togo and Gabon, the tales on the 2023 shortlist were chosen.
There are twenty-seven new authors on the award shortlist this year, with a quarter of them still in their twenties.
Bilal Tanweer, a Pakistani author, and translator who serves as the judges’ chair said, “On behalf of the jury, I am thrilled to reveal the shortlist for the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. This year’s shortlist is a concert of voices from across the Commonwealth, showcasing the richness of its writing traditions, histories, and perspectives. These stories brim with the energy and urgency of the present moment—read them to experience the beat and pulse of contemporary storytelling.”
The 6,642 Commonwealth citizens who submitted stories in 2023 were thanked by Dr Anne T Gallagher AO, Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation, the intergovernmental body that oversees the award.
She also extended special congratulations to the 28 authors who made the shortlist in a year that was extremely competitive.
Dr Gallagher added: “The Foundation is proud of the Short Story Prize, proud of what it reveals of the richness of Commonwealth culture; proud of its reach into all Commonwealth countries; and proud of the role that the prize plays in unearthing and nurturing emerging talent. Working so closely with civil society, we see, every day, the power of storytelling to challenge, to inspire, and to help us make sense of ourselves and the world around us.”