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Shortlists Announced for 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Alert! The Commonwealth Foundation has announced the shortlists for the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize, both with an exclusive emphasis on new fiction.

This year saw the recasting of what used to be called the Commonwealth Writers Prize under the banner “Commonwealth Writers: A World of New Fiction” – they even have a gleaming new website – which means the loss of the prestigious Best Book Prize, won last year by Aminatta Forna, and the refashioning of the Best First Book award as the Commonwealth Book Prize.

Commonwealth Writers has announced shortlists for the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Writers from around the world have been shortlisted for each prize in anticipation of becoming a regional winner on 22 May and ultimately competing for overall winner which will be announced at Hay Festival on 8 June.

Commonwealth Writers is a new cultural programme within the Commonwealth Foundation which develops, connects and inspires writers. By awarding prizes and running on-the-ground activities, it works in partnership with international literary organisations, the wider cultural industries and civil society to help writers develop their craft in the fifty four countries of the Commonwealth. is a forum where members from anywhere in the world can exchange ideas and contribute to debates.

As normal, a regional winner for each prize will be awarded in each of five regions (Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific) and will be announced on the 22 May. The overall winner will be announced at the Hay Festival in Wales on 8 June.

Representing Africa on the 2012 Book Prize shortlist are Zambia’s Ellen Banda-Aaku (Patchwork), Cape Town born Shelley Harris (Jubilee) – who considers herself to be “completely and happily British” – and London-based Jacques Strauss (The Dubious Salvation of Jack V). Meanwhile France-based South African author, Denis Hirson (The Dancing and the Death on Lemon Street), will go up against fellow UK novelists in the Canada and Europe category.

Don’t worry, we’re equally confused.

Each regional winner receives £2 500 while the overall winner will receive £10 000.

Sharing the “Africa” spotlight on the Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist are South Africans Jayne Bauling, Edyth Bulbring, Khadija Magardie and Bridget Pitt, and Nigeria’s Jekwu Anyaegbuna. The regional Short Story prize winner receives £1 000 and the overall winner receives £5 000.

Best of luck to all the shortlistees and especially to Books LIVE member Edyth Bulbring!

PatchworkJubileeThe Dancing and the Death on Lemon StreetDenis HirsonThe Dubious Salvation of Jack V

Commonwealth Book Prize Shortlist

The Wandering Falcon, Jamil Ahmad (Pakistan), Hamish Hamilton
Patchwork, Ellen Banda-Aaku (Zambia), Penguin Books, South Africa
Rebirth, Jahnavi Barua (India), Penguin Books India
The Sly Company of People Who Care, Rahul Bhattacharya (India) Picador
The Ottoman Motel, Christopher Currie (Australia), The Text Publishing Company
A Cupboard Full of Coats, Yvvette Edwards (UK), Oneworld Publications
The Book of Answers, CY Gopinath (India), HarperCollins India
Jubilee, Shelley Harris (South Africa), Weidenfeld & Nicolson
The Dancing and the Death on Lemon Street, Denis Hirson (UK), Jacana Media
The Vanishing Act, Mette Jakobsen (Australia), The Text Publishing Company
Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew, Shehan Karunatilaka (Sri Lanka), Random House India
Purple Threads, Jeanine Leane (Australia), University of Queensland Press
Sweetheart, Alecia McKenzie (Jamaica), Peepal Tree Press
The Town that Drowned, Riel Nason (Canada), Goose Lane Editions
Dancing Lessons, Olive Senior (Canada), Cormorant Books
The Sentimentalists, Johanna Skibsrud (Canada), William Heinemann
The Dubious Salvation of Jack V, Jacques Strauss (South Africa), Jonathan Cape
Me and Mr Booker, Cory Taylor (Australia), The Text Publishing Company
Pao, Kerry Young (UK), Bloomsbury

Commonwealth Short Story Prize Shortlist

Morrison Okoli (1955-2010), Jekwu Anyaegbuna (Nigeria)
Flight, Jayne Bauling (South Africa)
The Queen’s Blessing, Edyth Bulbring (South Africa)
Devil Star, Hazel Campbell (Jamaica)
Brothers, Adrienne Frater (New Zealand)
Like a Heart Maybe, but Cold, Chris Hill (UK)
The False River, Nick Holdstock (UK)
Radio Story, Anushka Jasraj (India)
Rush, Nic Low (Australia)
Elbow, Khadija Magardie (South Africa)
Two Girls in a Boat, Emma Martin (New Zealand)
Glory, Janice Lynn Mather (The Bahamas)
The Dolphin Catcher, Diane McCauley (Jamaica)
Friends, Sharon Millar (Trinidad and Tobago)
The Ghost Marriage, Andrea Mullaney (UK)
If These Walls had Ears, Carl Nixon (New Zealand)
Next Full Moon We’ll Release Juno, Bridget Pitt (South Africa)
The Crane, Sarah Quigley (New Zealand)
Drums, Mahesh Rao (UK)
Ammulu, Poile Sengupta (India)
Another Dull Day, Sreejith Sukumaran (India)

Book details

Images courtesy Commonwealth Writers, Glow Magazine, Africa Book Club and Goodreads


Recent comments:

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    April 25th, 2012 @12:15 #

    Go Edyth go!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    April 25th, 2012 @13:07 #

    Go Edyth, go Jayne!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Phillippa Yaa</a>
    Phillippa Yaa
    April 25th, 2012 @18:09 #

    well done to everyone!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    April 26th, 2012 @13:22 #

    Congratulations to all, esp the local writers doing us proud. However, I'm going to go off-continent and tout Shehan Karunatilaka's Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew as the winner of the book prize. One of the most original and rumbustious and affecting books I've encountered -- and not just because it's about cricket. But then I haven't read many of the others -- looks like a grand list.


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