Short story writers, novelists, playwrights and poets from five Commonwealth regions to judge world’s most global literary prize in 2019

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize today announced the international panel of writers that will judge the world’s most global literary prize in 2019. Representing the five regions of the Commonwealth, the panel chaired by the Kittitian-British novelist, playwright and essayist Caryl Phillips will comprise:

  • The Ugandan novelist and short story writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, overall winner of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize (Africa)

  • The Pakistani writer and journalist Mohammed Hanif, whose novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize (Asia)

  • The award-winning author of speculative fiction, Karen Lord, from Barbados (Caribbean)

  • The British short story writer Chris Power, author of the collection Mothers and The Guardian column A Brief Survey of the Short Story (Europe and Canada)

  • The poet, playwright, fiction writer and musician Courtney Sina Meredith, a New Zealander of Samoan, Mangaian and Irish descent (Pacific)

Run by Commonwealth Writers, the Prize, which awards the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth is still open for submissions until 1 November 2018.

Caryl Phillips, Chair, 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, said: “The short story offers a writer the opportunity to delve into character, explore difficult subject-matter, and be adventurous with form; in short, the writer can do all the things that they might do in a novel, but do so concisely. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize attracts entries which address a wide range of human experience in this complex multi-cultural and multi-racial world, and the prize is open to original stories written in English, or in a variety of other languages representing the diversity of the cultures which make up the Commonwealth.”

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is the only prize in the world where entries can be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, English, Greek, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, Tamil and Turkish. Stories by Commonwealth citizens translated into English from any language are also eligible.

Last week, the Trinidad author Ingrid Persaud won the 2018 BBC National Short Story Award for ‘Sweet Sop’, a story she originally wrote for the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, winning her the Caribbean regional and the overall prize in that year.

Keep up to date with the prize and join the conversation via: | | #CWprize

Notes to Editors

Caryl Phillips (Chair) was born in Saint Kitts and brought up in England. He is the author of numerous books of non-fiction and fiction. Dancing in the Dark won the 2006 PEN Open Book Award, and A Distant Shore won the 2004 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. His other awards include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Lannan Literary Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Crossing the River, which was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has written for the stage, television, and film, and is a contributor to newspapers and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and holds honorary doctorates from a number of universities. He has taught at universities in Britain, Singapore, Ghana, Sweden and Barbados and is currently Professor of English at Yale University. His latest novel, A View of the Empire at Sunset was published in 2018.

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, a Ugandan novelist and short story writer, has a PhD from Lancaster University. Her first novel, Kintu, won the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013 and was longlisted for the Etisalat Prize in 2014. Her short story Let’s Tell This Story Properly won the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and will be included in her first collection of stories, Manchester Happened, to be published by Oneworld in 2019. In 2018, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi was awarded the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction to support her writing. She lives in Manchester with her husband, Damian, and her son, Jordan, and teaches creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Mohammed Hanif was born in Okara, Pakistan. He Graduated from Pakistan Air Force Academy as Pilot Officer but subsequently left to pursue a career in journalism. His first novel, A Case of Exploding Mangoes, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for The Guardian First Book Award and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best first novel. His second novel, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti, was shortlisted the 2012 Wellcome Prize. He has written the libretto for a new opera, Bhutto. He writes regularly for The New York Times, BBC Urdu, and BBC Punjabi.

Barbadian author and research consultant Karen Lord is known for her debut novel Redemption in Indigo, which won the 2008 Frank Collymore Literary Award, the 2010 Carl Brandon Parallax Award, the 2011 William L. Crawford Award, the 2011 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and the 2012 Kitschies Golden Tentacle (Best Debut), and was nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. She is the author of the science fiction duology The Best of All Possible Worlds and The Galaxy Game, and the editor of the anthology New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean.

Chris Power’s short story collection Mothers was published in 2018. His column, A Brief Survey of the Short Story, has appeared in The Guardian since 2007. He has written for the BBC, The New York Times, and the New Statesman. His fiction has been published in Granta, The Stinging Fly, The Dublin Review, and The White Review, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4. He has acted as a judge for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. He lives with his family in London.

Courtney Sina Meredith is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and musician. She is also the Director of Tautai, New Zealand’s contemporary Pacific arts trust. Courtney describes her writing as an ‘ongoing discussion of contemporary urban life with an underlying Pacific politique.’ She launched her first book of poetry, Brown Girls in Bright Red Lipstick (Beatnik), at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair, and has since published a short story collection, Tail of the Taniwha (Beatnik 2016) to critical acclaim. Her play Rushing Dolls (2010) won a number of awards and was published by Playmarket in 2012. She has been selected for a number of international writers’ residencies including the prestigious Fall Residency at the University of Iowa where she is an Honorary Fellow in Writing, the Island Institute Residency in Sitka, Alaska, and the Bleibtreu Berlin Writers’ Residency in Charlottenburg, Berlin. In 2018 Courtney launched her first children’s book Secret World of Butterflies with Allen & Unwin and Auckland Museum. She has forthcoming titles for 2019. Courtney is of Samoan, Mangaian and Irish descent.

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About the Commonwealth Short Story Prize | The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is run by Commonwealth Writers, the cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation. Now in its seventh year, it is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000-5000 words). Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000. Short stories translated into English from other languages are also eligible.

About the Commonwealth Foundation | The Commonwealth Foundation is the Commonwealth’s agency for civil society. It supports people’s participation in democracy and development.