SEVEN African writers have made the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist. Twenty-six stories by writers from 11 countries make up the shortlist.
The prize – which aims to “bring stories from new and emerging voices, often from countries with little or no publishing infrastructure, to the attention of an international audience” – received nearly 4,000 entries from 47 countries this year.
The prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English, translations also eligible. Five winners from the five different Commonwealth regions are selected, winning £2500 (about R53 000) each, with the overall winner receiving £5000 (about R106 000).
The South African writers on the list are Andrew Salomon for The Entomologist’s Dream, Cat Hellisen for This is How We Burn, Mark Winkler for When I Came Home and Faraaz Mahomed for The Pigeon.
This is the second time Hellisen, Salomon and Winkler are facing off in a short story prize – having been placed first, second and third respectively in the 2015 Short Story Day Africa Award. Salomon was also the winner of the 2015 Short.Sharp.Stories Award.
From Nigeria, Lausdeus Chiegboka’s Exorcism, Enyeribe Ibegwam’s Saving Obadiah and Oyinkan Braithwaite’s The Driver have been shortlisted.
Other authors on the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist hail from Pakistan, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Jamaica, India, Trinidad and Tobago and Bangladesh.
After an initial sift-through by a team of international readers, the judging panel, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth – Helon Habila (Africa), Firdous Azim (Asia), Pierre Mejlak (Canada and Europe), Olive Senior (Caribbean), and Patrick Holland (Pacific) – chose the shortlist.
Chairperson of judges, South African novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo, said of the shortlist: “As a novelist accustomed to the luxury of the long form it has been a treat to discover writers who manage to crystallise such different experiences into so few words.
“The stories we have chosen for the shortlist are in turn comic, touching, poetic, mysterious but always fresh and unexpected.”