Glasgow writer wins regional Commonwealth Short Story Prize

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Published June 4, 2020 by Ruth Comerford

The regional winners of the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize have been announced, with 20-year-old Reyah Martin (pictured) taking the title for Europe and Canada.

The Glasgow-based author will receive £2,500 for her work Wherever Mister Jensen Went, described by judges as an “engaging and fun read”.

Heather O’Neill, the judge representing Canada and Europe, commented: “The lyricism of Wherever Mister Jensen Went captures the way every member of a community creates their own personal mythology which affects the consciousness and world view of people around them. Whether you want them to or not. It illustrates how neighbourhood is a story we are collectively writing, and the sorrows and meanness of its citizens affects the personalities and mores of children in ways we imagine only family members can.”

The full list of regional winners includes When a Woman Renounces Motherhood by Innocent Chizaram Ilo from Nigeria for the Africa award; The Great Indian Tee and Snakes by India’s Kritika Pandey for Asia; Jamaica’s Brian S Heap’s Mafootoo for the Caribbean; and The Art of Waving by Australian Andrea E Macleod for the Pacific region.

The five regional winners’ stories will be published online by literary magazine Granta in the run-up to the announcement of the overall winner.

Luke Neima, Granta’s director and online editor, said: “For many years Granta has proudly partnered with Commonwealth Writers to publish the five regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize— one each from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Canada and Europe.

“The prize gives a platform to places isolated from the traditional infrastructure of publishing, and through it we’ve had the chance to discover a range of brilliant new voices, many of whom go on to find success on bookshelves around the world. In every shortlist there are new voices and new worlds to discover, and this year’s is no exception. We hope that you will enjoy these stories as much as we have.”  

The international judging panel is chaired by Ghanaian writer Nii Ayikwei Parkes. The other panelists are South African writer and musician Mohale Mashigo, executive director of the Singapore Books Council William Phuan, Canadian author O’Neill, Trinidadian scholar and writer Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw and Australian writer and arts organiser Nic Low.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth.

The overall winner will receive £5,000 and be revealed on 30th June.

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