The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from any of the Commonwealth’s 56 Member States. Regional winners (Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean, and Pacific) each receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000. The regional winners will be announced on May 29 and the overall winner on June 26 at an in-person award ceremony.

In addition to English, entries can also be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, Creole, French, Greek, Malay, Maltese, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, Tamil, and Turkish. Shortlisted stories range from romances and speculative fiction to family dramas and coming-of-age tales, and address a range of topics from motherhood and bereavement to mental illness and forbidden love.

This year’s shortlist was selected from a total of 7,359 entries. Mauritius, Rwanda and St Kitts and Nevis have authors on the shortlist for the first time. This year’s shortlist is made up of 23 writers from 13 countries. The shortlisted writers – six men, 15 women, and two non-binary persons – range from ages 26 to 70. Only one of them has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize before.

The three Indian writers who made the four-strong Asian shortlist are:

  • Ajay Patri from Karnataka for “Mother May I”.

  • Bharath Kumar from Tamil Nadu for “Thambi Thambi”.

  • Sanjana Thakur from Mumbai for “Aishwarya Rai”.

The Chair of the Judges, Ugandan-British novelist and short story writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi said, the stories “amazed and thrilled, startled and shocked, and heartbroken and humbled” them. This year’s jury along with Makumbi comprises South African writer Keletso Mopai, Singaporean short story writer and screenwriter O Thiam Chin, Canadian writer and editor Shashi Bhat, poet and author Richard Georges from the British Virgin Islands, and Australian Bundjalung writer Melissa Lucashenko.