Meet the 6 Africans shortlisted for 2022 Commonwealth Short Story PrizeRuth Torty 29th April 2022 0 COMMENTS
The Commonwealth Foundation has released the shortlist for the 2022 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 countries, 32 of which are small states and island nations. Its Short Story Prize is an annual award for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the member countries. This year, the shortlist of 26 stories was selected by the international judging panel from over 6700 entries. Submissions were received from 52 Commonwealth countries, and includes, for the first time, stories from St Vincent and the Grenadines, Papua New Guinea, Gibraltar, and Eswatini.
Six stories written by Africans were shortlisted—five of these stories are on the African shortlist while the sixth story by Kenyan-British author Farah Ahamed is on the Europe/Canada list. The 2022 shortlist also has two Nigerians—one of which is making the list for the second consecutive time—and also for the first time, an Eswatini writer.
Keep reading to learn more about the six Africans shortlisted for the award.
“Lifestyle Guide for The Discerning Witch” by Franklyn Usouwa (Nigeria): This is a story about the effects of cultural gender bias on the development of a girl and how her defiance shapes the woman she becomes. Franklyn is a Nigerian storyteller studying for a bachelor’s degree in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Lagos. He was also shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021 for his Piece, A for Abortion. His short stories include ‘It Came From The Sea’ published in The Kalahari Review and Fear on Writer’s Space Africa.
“Something Happened Here” by Dera Duru (Nigeria): Dera Duru is another Nigerian writer who is shortlisted for the award. His short story centers on a man who after spending years on the run, goes back home to confront his past and his brother’s ghost. Dera is a laboratory scientist and an alumnus of the Purple Hibiscus Workshop organized by award-winning writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. His works include Male or Female published on Litro UK and Your New Husband on Make-a-Dream.
“and the earth drank deep” by Ntsika Kota (eSwatini): Ntsika weaves a tale from the distant past of our species; of a day when cold blood flowed for the first time, and the earth drank deep. Ntsika was born in Mbabane, Eswatini, and is a chemist by training. He is the first writer from Eswatini to be shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize. A self-taught writer, he was originally inspired by a high school writing assignment. For Ntsika, his submission to the Short Story Prize 2022 was to know if his pride in his work was well placed. “I chose to submit it to the Short story Prize because when I had written that story, I was very proud of it. And I wanted to know if that pride was well-placed or not, in my skill on that story. And there’s really no better stage on which to test than the Commonwealth short story Prize”, Ntsika explains. His work is a reflection of his thoughts and feelings, and he enjoys creating that reflection.
“How to Operate the New Eco-Protect Five-in-One Climate Control Apparatus” by Charlie Muhumuza (Uganda): In 2050, an attached user manual introduces the capabilities of a new home appliance with immediate application and consequences. Charlie is a Ugandan writer and lawyer, based in Kampala. He was awarded third prize at the inaugural Kalahari Short Story Competition in 2020, and was longlisted for the 2021 Afritondo Short Story Prize. For Charlie, it has been a story of perseverance. In 2020, his entry did not make the longlist. Fortunately, he made the longlist in 2021 and finally his story is in the 2022 shortlist. His short fiction includes “Little Cabbages” which was featured in Jalada Africa, and How a Star Splits into a Million Fragments on Isele Magazine.
“Thandiwe” by Mubanga Kalimamukwento (Zambia): This is a story in fragments on the meaning of family through the eyes of a hurting daughter caring for her ailing mother. Mubanga is a Zambian lawyer and artist. Her first novel, The Mourning Bird, won the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award in 2019. Mubanga has also won the Kalemba Short Story Prize and has been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Scholarship, Nobrow, and Bristol Short Story Prizes. Mubanga is an alumna of the Hubert H. Humphrey (Fulbright) Fellowship and a current Hawkinson Scholar. She’s also an MFA student at Hamline University, where she received the Writer of Color Merit Scholarship and was named a Deborah Keenan Poetry Scholar. She is the Fiction Editor for Doek!, Assistant Fiction Editor for the Water-Stone Review, and a mentor at the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. Her short story Womanhood appears on Overland.
‘Hot Chutney Mango Sauce’ by Farah Ahamed (Canada/Europe): Farah tells the story of five girls who are homeless and live in the backyard of a shrine. The story is told in the first-person plural and from the point of view of the men who work in the kiosks in the shrine car park. Farah was born in Kenya and currently lives between London and Lahore. She is the editor of the anthology Period Matters: Writing and Art on Menstruation Experiences in South Asia, published by Pan Macmillan India, 2022. Her short stories and essays include Queen Victoria In The Basement published in The White Review and Sugra in The Mechanics’ Institute Review. She is working on a novel, Days without Sun, a story about friendship and survival in the backstreets of Lahore.
The 2022 judging panel is chaired by Guyanese writer Fred D’Aguiar and includes Rwandan publisher Louise Umutoni (Africa), Indian short story writer and novelist Jahnavi Barua (Asia), Cypriot writer and academic Stephanos Stephanides (Canada and Europe), Trinidadian novelist and former winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize Kevin Jared Hosein, and Australian Wiradjuri writer, poet and academic Jeanine Leane (Pacific).
Fred D’Aguiar praised the versatility and wisdom of the stories, as well as their remarkable ability to balance history and storytelling. “These stories are as diverse as the world that they are drawn from and care about: they reflect a complex and afflicted planet; they answer the call of today’s multiple societal tensions by acts of reading that transform how the reader views that world,” he remarks.
The regional winners will be announced on 23 May. The overall winner is expected to be announced on 21 June. The 2022 shortlisted stories will be published in the innovative online magazine of the Commonwealth Foundation, adda.
Ruth Torty is a biochemist, and freelance science writer. She writes to shed light on health issues, rare diseases and science research in Nigeria. She is also a creative writer and has published on different literary sites including Spillwords and Nnoko Stories. She is passionate about genomics and its role in healthcare.