Akwaeke Emezi is the African regional winner for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2017 for her story Who Is Like God. She joins other winners across all the five commonwealth regions who incidentally are all women.
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize which was born in 2012 is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction and open to Commonwealth citizens aged 18 and over. Prizes are awarded to each of the five regions of the Commonwealth as well as a global winner. The overall winner receives £5,000 and the regional winner £2,500. Previous regional winners include Jekwu Anyaegbuna (2012), Julian Jackson (2013), Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (2014), Lesley Nneka Arimah (2015) and Faraaz Mahomed (2016).
The next regional winner has been announced and her name is Akwaeke Emezi. The Nigerian writer and video artist based in liminal spaces is a 2017 Global Arts Fund recipient, awarded by the Astraea Foundation for her video art. Her debut novel Freshwater is forthcoming from Grove Atlantic in Winter 2018.
Speaking about how difficult it was to choose the winner, the chair of the judging panel Kamila Shamsie said, “It speaks to the high quality of the shortlisted stories that the judges’ decisions were rarely straightforward – and it speaks to the high quality of the winners that none of the judges left the conversation unsatisfied by the choices we ended up with. These are engaging and moving stories that honour and understand the potential of the short story form to burrow in on intimate stories and also to give you vast canvases painted with precise strokes. They also reveal the extent to which human concerns cross borders while the ways in which those concerns are played out are always individual and specific.”
The stories of the regional winners will be published on www.granta.com every Tuesday from 30 May until 27 June, in order from East to West across the Commonwealth and you will be able to read Akwaeke’s story on June 13th. If you want to read the other winning stories the full schedule for the publishing is;
The Death of Margaret Roe, Nat Newman – 30 May
6 June – Drawing Lessons, Anushka Jasraj
3 June – Who is Like God, Akwaeke Emezi
20 June – The Naming of Moths, Tracy Fells
27 June – The Sweet Sop, Ingrid Persaud