The 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize announces shortlist

The 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize has announced a shortlist of 28 comprising of writers from 19 countries across the Commonwealth. 

Selected by an expert literary panel after 6,642 writers submitted their stories to the prize, the Commonwealth Foundation, which organised the competition, says the shortlist is again filled with emerging talent as well as more experienced writers. 

“All but one of the writers are new to the prize shortlist and a quarter are still in their twenties. Be sure to familiarise yourself with the shortlist because, as recent years have shown, it may well contain names that you will be hearing about and reading for many years to come,” says the statement from the organisers.

These stories, it adds, explore diverse and fascinating themes, like family secrets, growing up gay in a hostile world, bittersweet friendships and making one’s way in the world of work. They embody the passion for storytelling that thrives in our Commonwealth.

Chair of the judges, Pakistani writer and translator Bilal Tanweer praises the shortlisted stories: “They brim with the energy and urgency of the present moment—read them to experience the beat and pulse of contemporary storytelling.”

Among those on the shortlist is Nigeria’s H. B. Asari for “Arboretum” a short story that interrogates grief both collective and personal, and asks, “How do we pick ourselves up and keep going in the face of overwhelming tragedy.” Asari is a student at the University of Lagos and her short fiction has been published in The Voyage Journal.

See the full list here.


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