The regional winners of the 2013 Commonwealth book and short story prizes were announced today, unearthing the best of new writing from across the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Book Prize is awarded for the best first novel, with regional winners each receiving £2,500.
Regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the best piece of unpublished short fiction receive £1,000 each and the opportunity to have their story edited and published by Granta online. Granta is a quarterly literary magazine of new writing.
The prizes are part of Commonwealth Writers, a cultural initiative from the Commonwealth Foundation, which aims to inspire writers, storytellers and a range of cultural practitioners to work for social change. The prizes act as catalysts to target and identify talented writers from different regions who will go on to inspire and inform their local communities.
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.
The overall winners of the competitions will be announced at the Hay Festival in the UK on 31 May, with the book winner receiving £10,000 and the short story winner £5,000.
Commonwealth Book Prize regional winners
Sterile Sky, E.E. Sule (Nigeria), Pearson Education
Island of a Thousand Mirrors, Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka), Perera-Hussein Publishing House
Canada and Europe
The Death of Bees, Lisa O'Donnell (United Kingdom), William Heinemann
Disposable People, Ezekel Alan (Jamaica), self-published
The Last Thread, Michael Sala (Australia), Affirm Press
Chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Godfrey Smith said: “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 winners
The New Customers, Julian Jackson (South Africa)
The Sarong-Man in the Old House, and an Incubus for a Rainy Night, Michael Mendis (Sri Lanka)
Canada and Europe
We Walked On Water, Eliza Robertson (Canada)
The Whale House, Sharon Millar (Trinidad and Tobago)
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.”
For more on the writers and their work visit the Commonwealth Writers website.