2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize announces Kanya D’Almeida overall winner

Sri Lankan author Kanya D’Almeida has won the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for her story I Cleaned The—. D’Almeida receives £5000.

The Commonwealth Foundation announced D’Almeida’s win in an online award ceremony Wednesday which featured readings from Zambian author Mubanga Kalimamukwento, Sri Lankan actress Ranmali Mirchandani, British actress Lyndsey Marshal, Jamaican author Kei Miller and Australian actress Francesca Savige.

D’Almeida’s story is about “‘dirty work’: domestic labour, abandonment, romantic encounters behind bathroom doors, and human waste’. Judge Khademul Islam described it as ‘a life-affirming story of love among the rambutan and close trees of Sri Lanka—love for a baby not one’s own, love for a high-spirited elderly woman. Love found not among the stars but in human excrement.’ 

The 2021 prize was judged by an international panel of writers, each representing one of the five regions of the Commonwealth, and chaired by South African writer Zoë Wicomb. The other panellists are Nigerian writer A. Igoni Barrett; Bangladeshi writer, translator and editor Khademul Islam; British poet and fiction writer Keith Jarrett; Jamaican environmental activist, award-winning writer and 2012 Caribbean regional winner Diana McCaulay; and award-winning author and 2016 Pacific regional winner Tina Makereti from New Zealand.

Submissions for the 2022 Commonwealth Short Story Prize will open on 1 September 2021.

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