Five writers from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Guyana and the Bahamas have had their stories shortlisted for the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story prize.
The stories are The Ovelias at Benzie Hill Dump by Alexia Tolas (Bahamas), Where The Winds Blow by Cosmata Lindie (Guyana), Road Trip and Fall by Demoy Lindo (Jamaica), Ocoee by Kwame McPherson (Jamaica) and Teef From Teef by Deborah Matthews (Trinidad and Tobago).
They were among 28 outstanding stories selected by an international judging panel for the world’s most global literature prize from 19 countries across the Commonwealth
“Their story lines included topics of illness, human trafficking and decay, to relationships and hope – as well as family secrets, growing up gay in a hostile world, generation gaps, bittersweet friendships, and making one’s way in the world of work. They span genres from speculative and comic fiction to historical fiction and crime,” according to a statement.
Every year, the Short Story Price is awarded for best piece of unpublished short fiction from any of the Commonwealth’s 56 Member States.
“It is the most accessible and international of all writing competitions: in addition to English, entries can be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, Creole, French, Greek, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, Tamil, and Turkish. Such linguistic diversity in a short story prize in part reflects the richness of the Commonwealth, not least its many and varied literary traditions. In 2023, 475 entries were submitted in languages other than English,” according to reports.
The stories on the 2023 shortlist were selected from a total of 6,642 entries from 56 Commonwealth countries.
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”
Adding, “these stories perform the essential function of the best fiction: they make us see what we couldn’t see, awaken our sympathies for people we didn’t know, and bring us closer to the world we already inhabit. What we see here are writers, who with their varied styles and strategies, stretch our sense of the real. These stories, like music, go clean through our gut and spine, filling us with sensations ranging from dysphoric anguish to euphoric laughter, and after reading each story, we wake up to the world, changed.”