Rwandan-Namibian author Rémy Ngamije has been awarded the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for his short story “Granddaughter of the Octopus,” described as “an experimental short story filled with humour, voice, and quiet, earnest truths.” Listen to what Ngamije has to say about the story.
Ngamije is the first author of Rwandan and Namibian nationality to earn this honor. This is equally one of many firsts for Ngamije who has seen a long string of trailblazing successes in the last two years, including founding a magazine, a Caine Prize shortlist, two simultaneous Afritondo Short Story Prize Prize nominations, and a cool book deal.
Ngamije’s short stories have appeared in Litro Magazine, AFREADA, The Johannesburg Review of Books, The Amistad, The Kalahari Review, American Chordata, Doek!, Azure, Sultan’s Seal, Santa Ana River Review, Columbia Journal, New Contrast, Necessary Fiction, Silver Pinion, and Lolwe. His debut novel, The Eternal Audience of One was published by Blackbird Books in 2019.
The judging panel for the 2021 prize was chaired by South African author Zoe Wicomb and included the Nigerian writer A. Igoni Barrett (Africa), Bangladeshi writer and editor Khademul Islam (Asia), British poet and fiction writer Keith Jarrett (Canada and Europe), Jamaican environmental activist and author Diana McCaulay (Caribbean), and essayist and fiction writer Tina Makereti (Pacific).
Ngamije follows Nigerian writer Innocent Ilo who won the 2020 prize for “When a Woman Renounces Motherhood.” The other shortlisted writers for Africa Region are Moso Semanthle, Ola W. Halim, Vincent Anioke and Franklyn Usouwa.
For his win, Ngamije will receive a cash award of £2,500 and publication of the winning story in Granta.
The other regional winners are: “I Cleaned The-” by Kanya D’Almeida (Asia), “Turnstones” by Carol Farrelly (Canada and Europe), “The Disappearance of Mumma Dell” by Roland Watson-Grant (Caribbean) and “Fertile Soil” by Katerina Gibson (Pacific).
The 2021 overall winner, who will receive £5,000 will be announced during a special award ceremony which will be broadcast online at 1pm BST on 30 June 2021.
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Congratulations to Rémy Ngamije!