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South African Writer, Hana Gammon, Wins Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa Region

South African Writer, Hana Gammon, Wins Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa Region

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The five regional winning stories will be published online on May 24 by Granta literary magazine, as well as in a special print edition by Paper + Ink, which will be available online and in bookstores on June 27.

By Helena Olori

The Undertaker’s Apprentice by emerging South African writer, Hana Gammon, has won the coveted prize for Africa region as Commonwealth Foundation on Thursday, announced five regional winners of the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Ecstatic about her win, Gammon tweeted, “So incredibly excited and honoured to be one of the regional winners for the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, among such talented writers from around the world.”

Agnes Chew, Rue Baldry, Kwame McPherson, and Himali McInnes are the winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific regions, respectively.

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The winning short stories, drawn from a pool of 6,642 entries and 28 shortlisted writers, were described as impressively ambitious. “All of the winning stories demonstrated impressive ambition and deep love for storytelling, combined with an intimate understanding of place. The judges were unanimous in their admiration of the ambition of these stories to tackle difficult metaphysical and historical questions while displaying a real mastery of craft to deliver gripping stories for the readers,” says Bilal Tanweer who chaired the jury of six judges.

Gammon’s The Undertaker’s Apprentice follows the story of a group of children and their interactions with their small town’s sombre but kind mortician. As they grow up, they are forced to question issues of growth, decay, and exchange between different states of being. It draws parallels between life and death, childhood and adulthood and the space between what is given and what is taken.

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The 20-year-old writer born in Cape Town, has loved writing from a tender age. She is presently pursuing a BA in Language and Culture at South Africa’s University of Stellenbosch. The story is dedicated to her grandfather, an illustrious writer and big supporter of her writings, who passed earlier this year. For her, the competition is an opportunity to contribute to creative collaboration among writers from all over the world.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is an annual award for exceptional unpublished short fiction stories from the Commonwealth. Each regional winner is given a prize of £2,500, while the overall winner receives a grand prize of £5,000. This year’s overall winner will be announced in a virtual ceremony slated for June 27, 2023.

The 2024 Commonwealth Short Story Prize will open for submissions on the 1st of September 2023.

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