Jamaican Writer on Commonwealth Short Story Prize Shortlist

It seems our Jamaican writers are going from strength to strength. Here is some more good news from Commonwealth Writers. The 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize attracted nearly 4000 entries from 47 countries, and a Jamaican writer is on the list: Nova Gordon-Bell. According to the website, Ms. Gordon-Bell is “a graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she studied English Literature, Media and Communication. She has won several awards for her short-stories and poetry. Having pursued a career in public information and advertising, Nova currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in media, communication and creative writing. A lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, Nova lives in Jamaica with her sons, Benjamin and Joshua.”

Nova Gordon-Bell. (Photo: Commonwealth Writers)
Nova Gordon-Bell. (Photo: Commonwealth Writers)

Olive Senior was a member of the judging panel for the Short Story Prize, representing the Caribbean.

You can also read the Caribbean Regional Winner for 2012, “The Dolphin Catcher” by Diana McCaulay, here: http://www.commonwealthwriters.org/the-dolphin-catcher-by-diana-mccaulay/

Here is the Commonwealth Writers press release dated March 29, 2016. Extracts and details of the 26 shortlisted stories, along with short profiles of all the writers are on the website here: http://www.commonwealthwriters.org/2016-commonwealth-short-story-prize-shortlist/.

Twenty-six “fresh and unexpected” stories make up the shortlist for this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize. In its fifth year, the prize is for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English.

The shortlist covers a wide range of subject matter, from rivalry between chefs, a community of puppeteers in Delhi, society and class in Jamaica, genocide and revenge, to an advertising campaign for chewing gum in India and the heartbreak of Alzheimers.

South African author Gillian Slovo. (Photo: Guardian)
South African author Gillian Slovo. (Photo: Guardian)

Chair of the judges, South African novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo, said of this year’s shortlist:

“As a novelist accustomed to the luxury of the long form it has been a treat to discover writers who manage to crystallise such different experiences into so few words. The stories we have chosen for the shortlist are in turn comic, touching, poetic, mysterious but always fresh and unexpected.”

The prize is judged by an international panel of writers, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. The 2016 judges are Helon Habila (Africa), Firdous Azim (Asia), Pierre J Mejlak (Canada and Europe), Olive Senior (Caribbean) and Patrick Holland (Pacific).

The regional winners will be announced on 4 May, and the winning stories will be published on Granta online. Commonwealth Writers is also working with the literary agents Aitken Alexander Associates Ltd to identify writers through this year’s prize, which is part funded by the Sigrid Rausing Trust.


Aabirah, Sophia Khan (Pakistan)

A Visitation, Jane Healey (United Kingdom)

Black Milk, Tina Makereti (New Zealand)

Charmed, Jane Downing (Australia)

Children of the Zocalo, Don McLellan (Canada)

Confluence, Nova Gordon-Bell (Jamaica)

Cow and Company, Parashar Kulkarni (India)

Dirty White Strings, Kritika Pandey (India)

Eel, Stefanie Seddon (United Kingdom)

Ethelbert and the Free Cheese, Lance Dowrich (Trinidad and Tobago)

Exorcism, Lausdeus Chiegboka (Nigeria)

Girdhar’s Mansion, Sumit Ray (India)

Imbecile, Craig S Whyte (United Kingdom)

Instant Karma, Vinayak Varma (India)

Kurram Valley, Munib A Khan (Pakistan)

Niroporadh Ghum (Innocent Sleep), Sumon Rahman (Bangladesh);

Translator: Arunava Sinha

Saving Obadiah, Enyeribe Ibegwam (Nigeria)

Space Invaders, Stuart Snelson (United Kingdom)

The Driver, Oyinkan Braithwaite (Nigeria)

The Entomologist’s Dream, Andrew Salomon (South Africa)

The Pigeon, Faraaz Mahomed (South Africa)

This Here Land, Miranda Luby (Australia)

This is How We Burn, Cat Hellisen (South Africa)

Vestigial, Trent Lewin (Canada)

When I Came Home, Mark Winkler (South Africa)

Where Mountains Weep, Bonnie Etherington (New Zealand)


For further information please contact: Emma D’Costa – e.dcosta@commonwealth.int; +44 (0) 20 7747 6328; +44 (0) 7803 034928

 Notes to Editors
  1. For media enquiries please contact Emma D’Costa on e.dcosta@commonwealth.int; +44 (0) 207747 6328; +44 (0) 7803 034928
  2. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000-5000 words). Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000. Short stories translated into English from other languages are also eligible. Translators receive additional prize money. The regional winners will be announced on 4 May and the regional winning stories will be published on Granta online from 4 May. The overall winner will be announced in September.
  3. The prize is part of Commonwealth Writers, the cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation. Commonwealth Writers develops and connects writers across the world. It believes that well-told stories can help people make sense of events, engage with others, and take action to bring about change. Responsive and proactive, it is committed to tackling the challenges faced by writers in different regions and working with local and international partners to identify and deliver projects. Its activities take place in Commonwealth countries, but its community is global. http://www.commonwealthwriters.org
  4. 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. http://www.commonwealthfoundation.com
  5. Aitken Alexander Associates Ltd is a highly respected literary agency that was founded 40 years ago. Their list of prize-winning and bestselling authors include Pat Barker, Kevin Barry, Colin Barrett, Jung Chang, Sarah Dunant, Sebastian Faulks, Helen Fielding, Mark Haddon, Mohammed Hanif and Penny Vincenzi.
  6. Granta is a quarterly literary magazine of new writing. Published in book format and online, 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. http://www.granta.com




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