The 10-year-old literary competition, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, which annually accepts and awards the best piece(s) of short fiction —usually between 2000-5000 words of unpublished works from writers of Commonwealth origin—recently announced the 2021 shortlist for the said prize. The shortlist features 25 stories (out of 6423 submitted works) that “tackled difficult subjects and found fresh means of representing these with courage and sensitivity.”

This year’s Commonwealth Short Story  Prize umpired by theZoë-Wicomb-led panel, featured works that are testament to the undead and immortal nature of the short story craft: a webbed meal of ingenuity, boundlessness, and magic, spun by adherents of that art whose very soul is widely acknowledged with a balddisregard. The shortlist feature amazing works that thematically range from “speculative fictions that address environmental and political crises to the hyper-real and the supernatural, stories that include concerns with sexual identity, gender relations, animal rights, neo-colonialism, racial exploitation and, of course, the perennial themes of love and death.”

The 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize judging panel is chaired by Zoë Wicomb, who is joined by a judge selected from each of the five Commonwealth regions: A. Igoni Barrett (Africa), Khademul Islam (Asia), Keith Jarrett (Canada and Europe), Diana McCaulay (the Caribbean) and Tina Makereti (the Pacific).

The regional winners will be announced on May 12th and the overall winner on June 30th. The 25 shortlisted stories will be published on Adda while Granta will feature the stories of the 5 regional winners —whose victory will be announced on May 12th, and the overall winner on June 30th.

From the African region, the following works were featured in the 2021 shortlist:

▪ “Tetra Hydro Cannabinol” by Moso Sematlane (Lesotho)

▪ “Granddaughter of The Octopus” by Rémy Ngamije (Namibia)

▪ “An Analysis of a Fragile Affair” by Ola W. Halim (Nigeria)

▪ “Ogbuefi” by Vincent Anioke (Nigeria)

▪ “A for Abortion” by Franklyn Usouwa (Nigeria)

The various short story summaries are available here.

Congratulations to the shortlisted writers.

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