The shortlists for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021 have been announced today, April 14, 2021.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English in the regions of Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Each of these winners are then eligible for the global prize. Previous winners in the Africa region have been Jekwu Anyaegbuna (2012), Julian Jackson (2013), Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (2014), Lesley Nneka Arimah (2015), Faraaz Mahomed (2016), Akwaeke Emezi (2017), Efua Traoré (2018), Mbozi Haimbe (2019), and Chizaram Ilo (2020). Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi won the global prize in 2014.

The judging panel for the 2021 edition is chaired by South African novelist and critic Zoë Wicomb. Her fellow judges, drawn from the five regions of the Commonwealth, are Nigerian author 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).

The stories on the 2021 shortlist were selected from a total of 6423 entries from 50 Commonwealth countries – a 25% rise in entries as compared to the previous year.

Chair of the Judges, South African writer Zoë Wicomb, said, ‘Announcements about the death of the short story may be legion, but the 2021 shortlist loudly asserts that the form is in fine fettle. It also shows that writers continue to push at the very parameters of the short story. Many have tackled difficult subjects and found fresh means of representing these with courage and sensitivity.’  She also praised the ‘novel use of local non-standard Englishes as well as inventive inscription of native languages.’

Here are the stories by African/Black writers still in the running;


  • Tetra Hydro Cannabinol by Moso Sematlane (Lesotho)
  • Granddaughter of The Octopus by Rémy Ngamije (Namibia)
  • An Analysis of a Fragile Affair by Ola W. Halim (Nigeria)
  • Ogbuefi by Vincent Anioke (Nigeria)
  • A for Abortion by Franklyn Usouwa (Nigeria)


  • Tourism is Our Business by Heather Barker (Barbados)
  • Genuine Human Hair by Sharma Taylor (Jamaica)
  • The Disappearance of Mumma Dell’ by Roland Watson-Grant (Jamaica)
  • Hunger by Andre Bagoo (Trinidad and Tobago)

Here are videos from these shortlistees from the Commonwealth Short Story YouTube page;

The regional winners will be announced on May 12 before the overall winner is crowned on June 30.