This years 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize announced a Nigerian-German writer Efua Traoré as the regional winner for Africa. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is the most global literary award, it holds competition for the best piece of unpublished short fiction stories open to Commonwealth citizens at least 18 years of age. The prizes are awarded to each of the five regional winners, each receiving £2,500 and a global winner getting an additional £5,000. It is the only prize in the world where entries can be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, English, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, and Tamil.
Efua Traoré grew up in the south of Nigeria, her winning piece titled ‘True Happiness’ caught the judges attention to compelling human struggles and strengths in her region. The fiction story focuses on the first person narrative describing how a troubled thirteen-year-old-boy in Logos questions his pastor’s definition of true happiness.
Traoré and four other finalists – Sagnik Datta (India), Lynda Clark (UK), Kevin Jared Hosein (Trinidad and Tobago) and Jenny Bennett-Tuionetoa (Samoa) were selected candidates by a five-person international judging panel representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. With 5,182 stories submitted from 48 Commonwealth countries there was a total shortlist of 24. The judges included Damon Galgut (Africa), Sunila Galappatti (Asia), Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm (Canada and Europe), Mark McWatt (Caribbean) and Paula Morris (Pacific) who joined the Head Judge, Sarah Hall, to chose the five regional winners. They claim to be inspired by issues that develop and connect writers across the world that tackle regional challenges.
Hall says, “each of the winning regional stories speaks strongly for itself in extraordinary prose, and speaks for and beyond its region, often challenging notions of identity, place and society.” “Individually, the stories exhibit marvelous imaginative and stylistic diversity; together, they remind us that our deeper human concerns and conundrums are shared, and that the short story form is uniquely adept at offering the reader a world in which she or he might feel a sense both of belonging and un-belonging..,” the chief judge concluded.
Nigeria is proud to have a winning contestant representing the region of Africa. Regional winner Efua Traoré said: “Africa –and in particular Nigeria – has the most amazing storytellers. This prize gives me the humbling feeling of being part of something great. I am truly honored.”
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize partners with the British literary magazine Granta, you can find ‘True Happiness’ and all regional winner stories online, featuring one story a week every Wednesday.
Initially Published on www.afjn.org by Amie Culver, Intern