Sara-Ang-AdamCommonwealth Writers has announced the regional winners of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The Prize provides a platform for writers from the 53 countries of the Commonwealth to inspire others by bringing compelling short stories to a wider audience. This year unpublished stories were entered by nearly 4,000 writers from the five regions of the Commonwealth.

This year’s Chair is Ellah Allfrey, Deputy Chair of the Council of the Caine Prize and previously Deputy Editor of Granta and Senior Editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House.  The judges reflect the five regions:  Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific:  Doreen Baingana, (Africa), Michelle de Kretser (Pacific), Marlon James (Caribbean), Courttia Newland (Canada and Europe) and Jeet Thayil (Asia).

Commonwealth Book Prize will be discontinued from 2014; the prize will instead focus on short stories, according to an official announcement.

Commonwealth Writers develops the craft of individual writers and builds communities of emerging voices which can influence the decision-making processes affecting their lives. The Short Story Prize aims to identify talented writers who will go on to inspire their local communities.

The 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize will be chaired by Ellah Allfrey, Deputy Chair of the Council of the Caine Prize and previously Deputy Editor of Granta and Senior Editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House.

Farah-GhuznaviIn 2010, I was amazed and delighted when my flash fiction piece ‘Judgement Day’ won Highly Commended in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. At the time, entries to the competition consisted of no more than 600 words; and while those words could in theory be written on any topic, the organisers did provide a theme each year to assist the undecided writer.

In 2010, the theme was ‘Science, Technology and Society’. When I heard about it, my heart sank. I knew very little about writing flash fiction, and even less about science and technology! By default, my focus would have to be on the ‘society’ part of that equation. Anyway, I’m not quite sure where the original idea came from, but I ended up writing a piece exploring how the institution of marriage might change in the future as a result of advances in science and technology, and what might remain disturbingly familiar to us today – a kind of futuristic fable.