Photo: Courtesy of @stvitlini
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000 – 5000 words). Authors must be 18 and over and citizens of member states of the Commonwealth of Nations (commonwealthfoundation.com). Free to enter, the Prize seeks out talented writers who go on to inspire their communities (commonwealthfoundation.com). It unearths and promotes the best new writing from across the Commonwealth, develops literary connections worldwide, and brings stories from new and emerging voices to an international audience (commonwealthfoundation.com, opportunitydesk.org). "Stories often come from countries with little or no publishing infrastructure and from places marked by geographical, geopolitical, and economic isolation" (opportunitydesk.org). The Prize is open to translated fiction. The overall winner receives £5,000, which is one of the highest amounts for an international prize for unpublished short stories. The regional winners receive £2,500 and publication of their stories in the online magazine Granta, a publication for new writing. Translators will receive additional prize money.
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is hosted by Commonwealth Writers, which is the cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation (commonwealthwriters.org). "The Commonwealth Foundation is an intergovernmental organization established by Heads of Government in support of the belief that the Commonwealth is as much an association of peoples as it is of governments" (commonwealthfoundation.com). Both the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the Commonwealth Writers were launched in 2012 (opportunitydesk.org). The purpose of Commonwealth Writers is to inspire and connect writers and storytellers across the world, bringing personal stories to a global audience (commonwealthwriters.org). According to Diana McCaulay, Regional Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Jamaica, "Though we share many elements of a complex history, we are divided by geography, and Commonwealth Writers provides diverse spaces for the exchange of ideas" (commonwealthwriters.org).
For the first time, a Vincentian has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Cecil Browne's short story "A Hat for Lemer" was among 26 stories chosen for the shortlist out of 6,730 entries from 52 Commonwealth nations (stvincenttimes.com). Browne was born in St Vincent and the Grenadines but has lived in the UK since he was a teenager. In addition to being a college lecturer in mathematics for over 35 years, he also loves cricket, writing, and music (stvincenttimes.com). In 2018, Browne published his short story, "Coming Off the Long Run" in the anthology So Many Islands. Recently, he completed his debut novel.