Two Jamaicans for the Commonwealth 2023 Short Story Prize
The Commonwealth Foundation recently announced the shortlist of candidates for the 2023 Short Story Prize that will be given in September.
Administered by the Commonwealth Foundation, an intergovernmental organization, the contest is open to writers in the bloc’s 56 member states, to submit unpublished short story fiction of 2,000 to 5,000 words.
Chair of the Judges, Pakistani writer and translator Bilal Tanweer said, that the shortlist is ‘a concert of voices from across the Commonwealth, showcasing the richness of its writing traditions, histories, and perspectives.’ This annual competition attracts many writers, and this year is no exception, with over 6,600 submissions made.
The final candidates are from Australia, The Bahamas, Bangladesh Canada, Cyprus, Guyana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom. There are also two Jamaicans in this list of finalists, Kwame McPherson and Demoy Lindo. Meet the writers in the short list here.
In describing his development as a story writer Kwame McPherson ‘I didn’t embark on this writing journey from the outset, it came later on. I grew up in the Caribbean, Jamaica, in particular. In primary school, pupils were taught to write poems, compositions and essays, and it was there my writing journey began… I just fell in love with writing. Even though it was an undiscovered talent from primary school, it never actually happened until I faced a challenging time in my adult life. While going through that experience, I ended up questioning what my life purpose was. The answer came, showing me that writing was what I wanted to do.’
McPherson’s work includes a range of genres such as science fiction, thriller, romance, mystery, Jamaican and Caribbean folklore, and African history. He previously entered the Commonwealth Short Story contest on four occasions. This year’s submission, Ocoee is his most successful entry to the contest.
Road Trip and Fall is the title of the young Jamaican writer, Demoy Lindo short story. Lindo is currently a zoology student at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus in Kingston. He first stepped into the literary scene in 2020, when he was awarded the Jamaica Young Poet Laureate Prize. In his interview with the Gleaner, he encouraged young people to write. “You don’t have to be old to write. If they have what it takes to write a good story in school, then, more than likely, with due diligence and discipline, they will have what it takes to become a successful writer.”
Last year’s Commonwealth 2022 Short Story Prize winner was Eswatini chemist and writer Ntsika Kota for his short story titled ‘and the earth drank deep.’