The regional winners for the 2017 commonwealth short story prize was announced yesterday. In the African region, a Nigerian writer, Akwaeke Emezi emerged the winner, with her story ‘Who Is Like God’.
The Nigerian writer who has identified herself to be an ‘Igbo and Tamil writer and video Artist based in liminal spaces’, is also a 2017 Global Arts Fund recipient, awarded by the Astraea Foundation. Her debut novel, Freshwater, is allegedly forthcoming and will be published in the late months of 2018 by Grove Atlantic.
Here is an excerpt from her winning story, ‘Who Is Like God’;
‘My mother talked about God all the time, as if they were best friends, as if He was borrowing her mouth because maybe He trusted her that much or it was easier than burning bushes or He was just tired of thundering down from the skies and having no one listen to Him. I grew up thinking that He was folded into her body, very gently, like when she folded sifted icing sugar into beaten egg whites, those kinds of loving corners’.
Other regional winners are;
- ‘The Death of Margaret’ by Nat Newman (Australia, pacific region)
- ‘Drawing Lessons’ by Anushka Jasraj (India, Asia region)
- ‘The naming of moths’ by Tracy Fells (U. K, Candace and Europe region)
- ‘The Sweet Sop’ by Ingrid Persand (Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean region)
The overall winner will be announced later on.
The commonwealth short story prize celebrates unpublished writers who are citizens of a commonwealth nation. Each regional winner receives £2,500, while the overall winner receives £5000.
According to the panel of judges, this year’s competition received a record 6,000 entries.
And talking about the entries, Kamila Shamsie, Chair, 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize said, “It speaks to the high quality of the shortlisted stories that the judges’ decisions were rarely straightforward – and it speaks to the high quality of the winners that none of the judges left the conversation unsatisfied by the choices we ended up with. These are engaging and moving stories that honour and understand the potential of the short story form to burrow in on intimate stories and also to give you vast canvases painted with precise strokes. They also reveal the extent to which human concerns cross borders while the ways in which those concerns are played out are always individual and specific.”