Commonwealth Book Prize scrapped for short story competition

Posted: August 27, 2013 in arts/culture

The Commonwealth Foundation has announced decision to drop its prize for debut novels so as to focus on the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

According to Lucy Hannah, programme manager at the Commonwealth Foundation, the decision reflects, “a gradual awareness that the literary world is populated with quite a lot of prizes, many of which have more resources than we could put in.’

“We felt it no longer fitted the brief for a development organisation,” she said.

In 2011, after 25 years, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize changed to become the Commonwealth Book Prize for debut novelists and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The focus will now be solely on the short story prize, which is part of a wider programme of activity designed to support new and emerging talent.

“There is an increase of interest in the short form generally, and it means that we can develop writers who don’t have access to a publisher, which they needed to do when it was a book prize. We will be connecting with writers a little earlier in their careers,” Hannah added.

The original Commonwealth writers’ prize had a strong reputation, with winners including JM Coetzee for his novel Disgrace, twice-winner Rohinton Mistry for A Fine Balance and Such a Long Journey, and Vikram Seth for A Suitable Boy.

New prizes introduced since the Commonwealth prize began include the Man Booker International in 2005, and the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 1992.

The Commonwealth Short Story prize will form part of a development programme which also includes building an online community of writers, supporting the nascent publishing industry in the Caribbean, translation projects, and developing emerging scriptwriters.

Hannah said: “We’re looking for talented voices – if you can pull off something compelling in short form, we’re interested in that.”


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