Five Caribbean writers are among the 25 shortlisted in the Commonwealth Short Story Prize competition.
Now into its tenth year, the 2021 competition received a record 6,423 entries from 50 Commonwealth countries. Two Trinidadians – Andre Bagoo and Rashad Hosein; two Jamaicans – Sharma Taylor and Roland Watson-Grant; and Barbadian Heather Barker made the coveted shortlist.
South African novelist Joë Wicomb, chairman of the judges’ panel, said the 2021 shortlist “loudly asserts that the (short story) form is in fine fettle. It also shows that writers continue to push at the very parameters of the short story.”
In an April 14 Commonwealth Writers report, Wicomb states: “In this tenth year of the Prize we see from the submissions not only the flexibility of the form but also novel use of local non-standard Englishes as well as inventive inscription of native languages in standard English texts.
The judging panel was well exercised in deliberating on a range of stories 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 great number of excellent submissions and the equivocal nature of aesthetic taste made for protracted discussions. It has been a privilege to participate in vigorous argument and thoughtful horse-trading as members of the panel generously conceded and negotiated priorities.”
The mix of short stories ranges from speculative fiction that speaks to political crises to hyper-real stories and supernatural texts, according to the Commonwealth Writers report. The shortlist touches on “everything from sexual identity to gender relations, from animal rights to racial exploitation, and – of course – the perennial themes of love and death.”
The judges will announce the regional winners on May 12 and declare the overall winner on June 30.