Reena, Portia Subran win Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2024

Reena, Portia Subran win Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2024

Reena (Africa) and Portia Subran (Caribbean) won in their regions at the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2024 on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English in the regions of Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Each of these winners is then eligible for the global prize. Some previous winners in the Africa region have been Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (2014), Lesley Nneka Arimah (2015), Faraaz Mahomed (2016), Akwaeke Emezi (2017), Efua Traoré (2018), Mbozi Haimbe (2019), Innocent Chizaram Ilo (2020), Rémy Ngamije and Roland Watson-Grant (2021), Ntsika Kota (2022), as well as Kwame McPherson and Hana Gammon (2023). Global winners include Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (2014) and Kwame McPherson (2023).

The jury for 2024 is chaired by previous winner Ugandan-British novelist and short story writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi alongside South African writer Keletso Mopai, (Africa), Singaporean short story writer, screenwriter, and novelist O Thiam Chin, (Asia), Canadian writer and editor Shashi Bhat (Canada/Europe), poet and author Richard Georges from the British Virgin Islands (Caribbean) and award-winning Australian Bundjalung writer Melissa Lucashenko (Pacific). This panel announced the shortlist from 7,359 entries from 53 Commonwealth countries on Wednesday, April 17.

On Wednesday, they announced the regional winners with the Chair of the Judges Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi saying, “The short story form has neither the luxury of time nor the comfort of space. It is an impatient form; does not dance around. Inevitably, its punch leaves you breathless. As the judging panel, we enjoyed, sorrowed, celebrated, and eventually agreed that these stories came up on top of the different regions.”

The winners in the Africa and the Caribbean region are;

Africa

  • Dite, Reena (Mauritius)

African region jury member South African writer Keletso Mopai said “From the first time I read it, “Dite” stayed with me. Its brilliance is distinguishable at first sight and even better when read once more. It is intentional and carefully layered. A masterful blend of memories alongside the protagonist’s love for tea. The story demonstrates skill, shifting between point of views and time, depicting generations of women and the strain left behind by colonialism. In the end, one is left in awe by the writer’s prowess.”

Caribbean

  • The Devil’s Son, Portia Subran (Trinidad and Tobago)

Caribbean region, poet and author Richard Georges from the British Virgin Islands said, “Portia Subran’s The Devil’s Son is immense, gripping – a wonder. The writer holds an earnest reverence for the musicality of language, and the magic that courses through the Caribbean landscape, and utilizes both to create a tale that harnesses horror, myth, and the colonial utility of religion to explore a deeply personal family trauma. The story poses questions of history and memory, objective and subjective truth, and metaphorizes the advent of electricity in central Trinidad as a fledgling epistemology challenging the religious hegemony. This is a memorable story that balances darkness with bright humour, a testament to the writer’s remarkable voice and brilliant technique.”

The overall winner will be announced at the Commonwealth Short Story Prize Award Ceremony on June 26.

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