Bengali writers invited for Commonwealth short story prize

New Delhi, Oct 13: Writers in Bengali, Swahili and Portuguese can now participate in the 5,000 pounds (USD 7,670) Commonwealth Short Story Prize, which is offering authors the opportunity to submit stories in languages other than English.

"We would like to invite writers from Mozambique who write in Portuguese, and writers who write in Swahili and Bengali, and who do not have an English translation of their story, to submit their stories in the original language," Commonwealth Writers said in a statement.


South African-born and London-based, novelist Gillian Slovo has also been announced as the chair of the 2016 edition of the prize.

Organisers have said the inclusion of languages is aimed at attracting more entries. Apart from Slovo others on the jury panel are writers Helon Habila from Nigeria, Pierre J Mejlak from Malta, Patrick Holland from Australia, Olive Senior from Jamaica, and Firdous Azim from Bangladesh.

"As part of the judging process, the stories will first be read by experienced Bengali, Portuguese and Swahili readers. Any stories which are successful at this first stage will be translated into English to be read by the international judging panel," organisers said.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is managed by Commonwealth Writers, cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation, set up in 2012 to inspire, develop and connect writers and storytellers across the Commonwealth countries In 2012, the Commonwealth Writers discontinued the Commonwealth Book Prize and focused solely on the Short Story Prize.

Past recipients from India who won the regional (Asia) Prize include Siddharth Gigoo in 2014 for "The Umbrella Man" Anushka Jasraj in 2012 for "Radio Story".

Previously the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book was won by authors Rana Dasgupta for "Solo", Vikram Seth for "A Suitable Boy", Vikram Chandra for "Love and Longing in Bombay", Shashi Tharoor ("The Great Indian Novel)", Salman Rushdie for "The Ground Beneath her Feet", Rohinton Mistry ("A Fine Balance" and "Such a Long Journey" and V S Naipaul ("A way in the World" among others.

Meanwhile, the Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000-5,000 words) in English.

Short stories translated into English from other languages are also eligible. Each year, five winning writers from five different Commonwealth regions are selected.

Regional winners receive 2,500 pounds (USD 3,835) and the overall winner receives 5,000 pounds (USD 7,670).

If the winning short story is a translation into English, the translator receives equal prize money.


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