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The Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist is out, and there are five writers representing Africa.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize “develops and connects writers across the world” and is known for “discovering new writers and bringing them to a global audience.” It was established 9 years ago and is administered by the Commonwealth Foundation.

This year, the shortlist of 20 stories was selected from a pool of 5107 entries from 49 Commonwealth countries. The 20 stories represent 15 countries spread across 5 regions of the world: African, Asia, Canada-Europe, Caribbean, and Pacific. The regional winner receives £2500 and the overall winner receives £5,000.

The judging panel is Chaired by the Ghanaian writer Nii Ayikwei Parkes and includes South African writer Mohale Mashigo, Executive Director of the Singapore Books Council William Phuan, Canadian author Heather O’Neill, Trinidadian scholar Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw and Australian writer Nic Low.

The 2020 Africa shortlist has a few surprises. It includes two Nigerians and, for the first time, a writer from The Gambia. Last year’s Africa winner was Zambian writer Mbozi Haimbe for her short story “Madam’s Sister.”

AFRICA shortlist

‘The Dawning’ by Aba Asibon (Ghana)

Aba Amissah Asibon was born and raised in Ghana. Her short fiction has been published in Guernica, The University of Chester’s Flash Magazine and The Johannesburg Review of Books. She was also longlisted for the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Prize for Short Fiction and featured in the prize’s anthology Migrations. Aba currently lives in Malawi and is working on her debut novel.


‘When a Woman Renounces Motherhood’ by Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Nigeria)

Innocent Chizaram Ilo is an Igbo writer from Nigeria. Their works interrogate gender, class, memory, and sexuality and have been published in literary magazines across four continents. They are a finalist of the Gerald Kraak Award, Short Day Africa, and Wilbur Smith Author Of Tomorrow prizes. They have also won the Africa YMCA and Oxford Festival of the Arts short story contests. Their works have been published in Fireside Magazine, Overland, Strange Horizons, Cosmic Roots And Eldritch Shores, Cast Of Wonders, Transcendent 4: Best Of The Year Transgender Speculative Fiction Anthology, Short Story Day ID Anthology, and Heart Of The Matter: Gerald Kraak Award Anthology.


‘Rites Evasion Maneuver’ by Caleb Ozovehe Ajinomoh (Nigeria)

Caleb Ozovehe Ajinomoh was awarded a residency at Ledig House, Art Omi, New York in 2018. He has won the W. Morgan and Lou Claire Rose award, as well as the L.D Clark and LaVerne Harrell Clark Award. His work appears in QZ, The Offing, Necessary Fiction, Catapult, adda, AFREADA, CircleShow, AWP Writers’ Chronicle, and the Goethe Institute anthology, Limbe to Lagos. He is a fiction candidate at Texas State University in the United States.


‘The Faraway Things’ by Alboricah Rathupetsane (South Africa)

Alboricah Tokologo Rathupetsane is a 28 year old writer from South Africa whose passions are writing and art which she uses to express her feelings and ideas. Alboricah grew up in a rural village in the Province of Limpopo, South Africa, and currently lives and works in Port Elizabeth.


‘Fatou vs. the Dictator’ by ML Kejera (The Gambia)

ML Kejera is a Chicago-based author from The Gambia. Though born in Bakau, he left the country with his family in 1999. He has lived in Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the US. He speaks English and French and can understand Mandinka. His work has been published in riverSedge, The Cafe Irreal, Sleaze Mag, Strange Horizons, Riddled With Arrows, Popula, PanelxPanel, and The Outline. He is currently working on a short story collection about The G, for which he is seeking representation. Twitter: @KejeraL.


Go here to see the full list and learn more about the shortlistees.

Next Steps:

Tuesday 2 June Regional winners announced

Tuesday 7 July Commonwealth Short Story Prize overall winner announced

Congrats to all those shortlisted.



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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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