Regional Winners: 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize




The Commonwealth Foundation has announced the regional winners for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Representing Africa, Asia, Canada & Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific regions, these writers will now compete to become the overall winner, to be announced at Hay Festival UK on 31 May.

The Commonwealth Book Prize is awarded for the best first novel, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the best piece of unpublished short fiction.

Part of Commonwealth Writers, the prizes unearth, develop and promote the best of new writing from across the Commonwealth, developing literary connections worldwide and consistently bringing less-heard voices to the fore. The cultural breadth of stories from this year’s regional winners includes Sri Lanka on the eve of independence from British Colonial rule, the Socialist regime of 1970s Jamaica, and a South Africa riven by apartheid.


Commonwealth Book Prize

Regional Winner, Africa
Sterile Sky, E.E. Sule (Nigeria), Pearson Education

Regional Winner, Asia
Island of a Thousand Mirrors, Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka), Perera-Hussein Publishing House

Regional Winner, Canada & Europe
The Death of Bees, Lisa O'Donnell (United Kingdom), William Heinemann

Regional Winner, Caribbean
Disposable People, Ezekel Alan (Jamaica), self-published

Regional Winner, Pacific
The Last Thread, Michael Sala (Australia), Affirm Press

Commenting on the winners, Chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Godfrey Smith said, “Choosing the regional winners from among the 21 shortlisted books was a rewarding journey across diverse cultures, through soaring - sometimes shocking - imaginations, movingly connecting us with a fascinating range of human situations. The five regional winners are an impressive mixture of bold, ambitious, powerfully descriptive and emotionally riveting writing that will leave us with a deeper appreciation and understanding of our world.”


Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Regional Winner, Africa
The New Customers, Julian Jackson (South Africa)

Regional Winner, Asia
The Sarong-Man in the Old House, and an Incubus for a Rainy Night, Michael Mendis (Sri Lanka)

Regional Winner, Canada & Europe
We Walked On Water, Eliza Robertson (Canada)

Regional Winner, Caribbean
The Whale House, Sharon Millar (Trinidad and Tobago)

Regional Winner, Pacific
Things with Faces, Zoë Meager (New Zealand)

Chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Razia Iqbal said, “The short story is among the hardest forms to master. The five stories we chose as regional winners all pass the judges' tests of capturing a distinctive tone; creating fulsome characters; always deft in showing, not telling; subject matter both intimate and personal, as well as ranging across political landscapes. Reading them will transport you, as all good literature does, and introduce you to voices we are sure you will hear again.”

Commonwealth Writers has partnered with Granta magazine to give regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize the opportunity to be published by Granta online during the week commencing 27 May. 

John Freeman, Editor of Granta said: “The Commonwealth Short Story Prize searches across a vast territory with relentless curiosity to select the brightest new talent from each region, and this year is stronger than ever. With voices that arrest, affirm, disturb and illuminate, this new crop of writers turn our expectations for what a story can do, and of where they are calling from, inside out. This partnership is an example of what the magazine can be at best – a beacon for those writers we didn’t know we were missing out on – and we salute Commonwealth Writers in their continuing good work.”

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact Carrie Rees, carrie@reeshutchinson.com / +44 (0) 7763 708346 or Claire Turner, Communications Manager at the Commonwealth Foundation, c.turner@commonwealth.int / +44 (0) 20 7747 6522.

Notes to Editors

1. Overall winners of the Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize will be announced at Hay Festival at 7pm on Friday 31 May 2013.

2. The winner of the Commonwealth Book Prize receives £10,000, with regional winners receiving £2,500. The winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize receives £5,000, with regional winners receiving £1,000. For more information visit www.commonwealthwriters.org

3. Commonwealth Writers

The Commonwealth Book Prize and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize are part of Commonwealth Writers, a cultural initiative from the Commonwealth Foundation. Commonwealth Writers aim is to inspire writers, storytellers and a range of cultural practitioners to work for social change. It builds communities of less heard and emerging voices to influence, directly and indirectly, the decision making processes which affect their lives. The Commonwealth Book and Short Story prizes act as catalysts to target and identify talented writers from different regions who will go on to inspire and inform their local communities. www.commonwealthwriters.org

4. Commonwealth Foundation

The Commonwealth Foundation is a development organisation with an international remit and reach, uniquely situated at the interface between government and civil society. It develops the capacity of civil society to act together and learn from each other to engage with the institutions that shape people’s lives. It strives for more effective, responsive and accountable governance with civil society participation, which contributes to improved development outcomes. www.commonwealthfoundation.com

5. Granta

The overall and regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize will have the opportunity to have their story edited and published by Granta online. Granta is a quarterly literary magazine of new writing. Published in book format, each issue includes stories, essays, memoir, poetry and art centred around a theme. Throughout its long history, Granta has published the most significant writers of our time featuring work by writers including Julian Barnes, Edwidge Danticat, Kazuo Ishiguro, Salman Rushdie, Santiago Roncagliolo, David Mitchell, Lorrie Moore, Zadie Smith, Jeanette Winterson and more. In recent years, the magazine has expanded to include foreign editions – in Spain, Italy, Brazil, Norway, China, Finland, Sweden, Portugal and Bulgaria. www.granta.com

6. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize regional winners will be published by Granta online during the week commencing 27 May at the following address: http://www.granta.com/New-Writing/Commonwealth-Short-Story-Prize-Winners

7. Hay Festival

Hay Festival celebrates great writing from poets and scientists, lyricists and comedians, novelists and environmentalists, and the power of great ideas to transform our way of thinking. Hay runs 15 festivals across five continents at which current political thought and the re-imaginings of international writers cross cultural and genre boundaries, and foster the exchange of understanding, mutual respect and ideas. www.hayfestival.com

8. Yardstick Festival

The regional winner for Africa, E. E. Sule, will be appearing at the Yardstick Festival, 27-30 June 2013. The festival promotes the experience of great African Diaspora literature through engaging audiences in Bristol and the South West. Jamaica 50 Cultural Medal of Honour winner Lorna Goodison and Alissandra Cummins, chair of UNESCO’s Executive Board, are patrons. Festival partners this year include the Royal African Society (RAS Africa Writes) and the Commonwealth Foundation (Commonwealth Writers). The festival includes authors from Jamaica, Kenya, Somalia, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and the UK. www.yardstick.org.uk

9. Commonwealth Foundation, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HY United Kingdom; Tel +44 (0)20 7930 3783; Fax +44 (0) 20 7839 8157; Email foundation@commonwealth.int; Website www.commonwealthfoundation.com

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