September 21, 2023

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize, which is awarded for the best short fiction manuscript, will announce regional winners on May 17, while the overall winner will be announced on June 27, 2023.

By Hope Ibiale

African writers, Michael Boyd, Matshediso Radebe, Hana Gammon, Josiah Mbote, Buke Abduba, and H. B. Asari, have been shortlisted for the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

The writers, who are the only nominees of African descent on the list, were nominated for their works, Mama Blue, Falling From a Knife Tree, The Undertaker’s Apprentice, Punching Lines, Price Tags, and Arboretum, respectively. Other writers on the list include Agnes Chew, Jean Flynn, Gail Davey, Dennis Kikira, Usama Lali, Deborah Matthews, and many more.

The prize, which is awarded for the best short fiction manuscript, will announce regional winners on May 17, while the overall winner will be announced on June 27, 2023.

While announcing the shortlisted writers, chair of the judges, Pakistani writer, and translator, Bilal Tanweer 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.”

Commonwealth short story prize
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(Read also: Bolu Babalola, Edward Enninful, Tola Okogwu, Ebinehita Iyere Shortlisted for 2023 British Book Awards)

Michael Boyd is a South African writer who has completed his MA in Creative Writing in Johannesburg. He has always been interested in literature, being an avid reader and film enthusiast. Boyd has worked at the Sundance, Telluride, Film Africa, and Cambridge Film Festivals for some time. He is working on his first novel.

Matshediso Radebe is a South African writer. Asides from vying for the Commonwealth prize, Radebe also won the SA Writers College Short Story Competition in 2022.

Hana Gammon is a South African writer and a student of Language and Culture at the University of Stellenbosch.

Josiah Mbote is a Kenyan writer, who is also studying Pharmacy at the University of Nairobi. Currently, Mbote is compiling his debut collection of short stories.

(Read also: Arinze Ifeakandu, Warsan Shire Shortlisted for 2023 Dylan Thomas Prize)

Buke Abduba is another Kenyan writer who began writing after the loss of her father.

B. Asari, the only Nigerian on the list, is a writer and a student at the University of Lagos.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction. The prize is open to citizens of member states of the Commonwealth of Nations. The prize aims to bring writing from these countries to the attention of an international audience. The overall winner receives £5,000 and the regional winner £2,500. All the shortlisted stories will also be published in Adda, the Commonwealth Foundation flagship magazine.

This year’s judging panel, chaired by Pakistani author Bilal Tanweer, includes Rwandan-born author, Rémy Ngamije; Sri Lankan author, Ameena Hussein; British-Canadian author, Katrina Best; Saint Lucian author, Mac Donald Dixon; and New Zealand’s former Poet Laureate, Dr. Selina Tusitala Marsh.

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