African authors shortlisted for 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Prize promotes strongest new stories from across the Commonwealth

By Commonwealth Foundation

Adelehin Ijasan from Nigeria, Michelle Sacks from South Africa and Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi from Uganda have been shortlisted for the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for their respective stories Ikanre, All Them Savages and Let's Tell This Story Properly.The Prize provides a platform for writers from the 53 countries of the Commonwealth to inspire others by bringing compelling short stories to a wider audience.

Regional winners for the Commonwealth Short Story prize will be announced on 14 May for each of the five regions: Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The overall winner will be announced in Kampala, Uganda, on 13 June to coincide with a series of Commonwealth Writers initiatives in East Africa.

This year unpublished stories were entered by almost 4,000 writers across the five regions. For the first time entries from the Cayman Islands, Mozambique, Swaziland and Tonga were received for the Prize. The judges reflect the five regions: Doreen Baingana, (Africa), Michelle de Kretser (Pacific), Marlon James (Caribbean), Courttia Newland (Canada and Europe) and Jeet Thayil (Asia). The Chair is Ellah Allfrey, Deputy Chair of the Council of the Caine Prize and previously Deputy Editor of Granta and Senior Editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House.

Ellah Allfrey, Chair, 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, said:

'This year it has been rewarding to see the ambition, skill and imaginations of writers across the Commonwealth displayed in works that cover a dazzling range of subjects. These are stories of rage and of love, of sexual experimentation and adventure; there are strong genre pieces and stories in which the voice of a character transports the reader to another time and place. Above all, the shortlist provides a glorious ride across continents and into the imaginations of writers whose work illustrates the power of a short story to inform, to challenge and to entertain.'

Lucy Hannah, Programme Manager, Commonwealth Writers, said:

"This year Commonwealth Writers focused its energies on one prize only - the short story. We're thrilled that entries have risen by more than fifty per cent and our geographical reach has attracted more stories from writers in countries with little or no publishing infrastructure. We're committed to growing the reach and diversity of the prize to mark the enduring appeal of the short story."

This year Commonwealth Writers announces a new association with the London-based literary and media agency Blake Friedmann, who will work with selected writers identified through the Prize. It will also continue its partnership with Granta to give the overall and regional winners of the 2014 Prize the opportunity to have their story edited and published by Granta online.

Author biographies:

Adelehin Ijasan, Nigeria - Ikanre
Adelehin Ijasan grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. He is a medical doctor and ophthalmology resident. His first published work appeared in The Deepening. Subsequently, his short fiction has featured in magazines and websites including Membra Disjecta, Everyday Fiction (The Best of Everyday Fiction), The Tiny Globule, Takahe and On the Premises - where he came second in the short story competition in 2008.

Michelle Sacks, South Africa - All Them Savages
Michelle Sacks is a South African-born writer who has lived in Cape Town, Dublin and Frankfurt. She holds a Master's Degree in English from the University of Cape Town, and has been shortlisted twice for the PEN Prize for Southern African Fiction. Her short stories have been published in the 2007 and 2011 editions of the JM Coetzee-judged anthology, African Pens, as well as in New Contrast and Akashic Books. In summer 2014, she will take part in the Takt A.I.R. Artist's Residency in Berlin, where she will work on completing a collection of short stories, and beginning her first novel.

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Uganda - Let's Tell This Story Properly

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist and short story writer. She studied Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. In 2012, her short story The Accidental Seaman was published in Moss Side Stories by Crocus Books. In 2013, her poems, Free Range, and Father cried in the kitchen were published in Sweet Tongues. Jennifer also has a PHD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and her doctoral novel, The Kintu Saga, won the Kwani Manuscript Project in 2013. The novel will be published in the summer of 2014 under the title Kintu. Jennifer lives in Manchester, and teaches Creative Writing at Lancaster University part-time as an Associate Lecturer. She is currently working on her second novel, Nnambi.

Full list of shortlisted stories and authors:

Adelehin Ijasan, Ikanre, Nigeria
Michelle Sacks, All Them Savages, South Africa
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Let's Tell This Story Properly, Uganda

Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, Grandmother, Singapore
Sara Adam Ang, A Day in the Death, Singapore

Canada and Europe
Idrissa Simmonds, On The Other Side, Canada
Jack Wang, The Night of Broken Glass, Canada
Tracy Fells, Household Gods, United Kingdom
Lucy Caldwell, Killing Time, United Kingdom
Luiza Sauma, Agnes Agnes Agnes, United Kingdom

Helen Klonaris, Cowboy, Bahamas
Maggie Harris, Sending for Chantal, Guyana
Charmaine Rousseau, Miss Annie Cooks Fish, Trinidad and Tobago

Janine Mikosza, Monkey Boy, Australia
Michael Hunt, Playing the Stringless Guitar, Australia
Daniel Anders, Hummingbird, Australia
Lucy Treloar, The Dog and the Sea, Australia
Julian Novitz, Tenure, New Zealand
David Herkt, Rhododendrons in Mist, New Zealand