3 African Writers make 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize Shortlist

Akwaeke Emezi (Nigeria), Kelechi Njoku (Nigeria) and Diane Awerbuck (South Africa) are the 3 African Writers who made this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist. Twenty-one outstanding stories were selected for the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize by an international judging panel out of almost 6000 entries from 49 Commonwealth countries. Now in its sixth year the Prize is for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English.

Chair of the judges, novelist Kamila Shamsie, said of this year’s shortlist:

“The extraordinary ability of the short story to plunge you into places, perspectives and emotions and inhabit them fully in the space of only a few pages is on dazzling display in this shortlist. The judges weren’t looking for particular themes or styles, but rather for stories that live and breathe. That they do so with such an impressive range of subject matter and tone has been a particular pleasure of re-reading the shortlisted stories. The geographic spread of the entries is, of course, in good part responsible for this range – all credit to Commonwealth Writers for structuring this prize so that its shortlists never seem parochial. ”

The Prize is judged by an international panel of writers, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. The 2017 judges are Zukiswa Wanner (Africa), Mahesh Rao (Asia), Jacqueline Baker (Canada and Europe), Jacob Ross (Caribbean) and Vilsoni Hereniko (Pacific).

Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer and video artist based in liminal spaces. She is a 2017 Global Arts Fund recipient, awarded by the Astraea Foundation for her video art, and her debut novel Freshwater is forthcoming from Grove Atlantic in Winter 2018.

Kelechi Njoku is a former radio broadcaster, now an editor and ghost-writer. He was the West Africa Regional Prize winner of the 2014 Writivism Short Story Competition; he was shortlisted in Africa Book Club’s Short Reads (2014) and Naija Stories’ Best Short (2013), and he has also contributed fiction to the Kalahari Review, Nigerians Talk LitMag, Open Road Review, and Aerodrome. He lives in Lagos and Abuja.

Diane Awerbuck is a writer, reviewer and teacher, based in Cape Town. Her short stories are collected in Cabin Fever, and her latest highbrow-horror novel is Home Remedies. She is currently co-writing a frontier-fiction series with Alex Latimer, under the pen name Frank Owen. South is out now and North is coming soon: southvsnorth.com. Diane’s poetry and interviews can be found here.

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