Thursday, May 05, 2016

2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize - New Zealand Authors Announced as Regional Winners

5 May 2016

Commonwealth Writers has announced the regional winners for this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The five stories have risen to the top of the 4,000 entries received this year. The New Zealand author, Tina Makereti, is the regional winner for the Pacific for her story ‘Black Milk’. Another regional winner, for Canada and Europe, is the UK-based, New Zealand born writer Stefanie Seddon, for her story ‘Eel’.
An award-winning author, Tina Makereti writes essays, novels & short stories. ‘Black Milk’ was written in response to a series of Fiona Pardington photos from the exhibition ‘A Beautiful Hesitation’ for a Litcrawl NZ event. She said of her win: “It's a wonderful surprise to win the regional prize with this strange little story. It couldn't have existed without Fiona Pardington's photography, which requires us to see in a different way. Good fiction makes us see in a different way also, so it makes me very happy that 'Black Milk' might have achieved that.”
Stefanie Seddon grew up on a farm in New Zealand and moved to the UK after completing a degree in English Literature at the University of Otago and is currently studying the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London, UK.  She said of her story, “‘Eel’ is a very personal story to me.  Its 'rite-of-passage' theme is a universal one, and its setting is the South Island of New Zealand, where I spent the first half of my life. I think you never really lose the view you grow up with, and when you see it through a lens of time and distance, it can be a great source of inspiration for fiction writing.”
In its fifth year, the Prize is for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English.  The Prize is judged by an international panel of writers, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. The 2016 judges are Helon Habila (Africa), Firdous Azim (Asia), Pierre Mejlak (Canada and Europe), Olive Senior (Caribbean) and Patrick Holland (Pacific). Chair of the judging panel is South African novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo.
 “The Pacific shortlisted stories evoked a marvellous sense of place – that is, their settings seemed inevitable, essential – and they were gripping tales,” commented Patrick Holland, “‘Black Milk’ stood out from the pack as an incredibly strange and powerful tale of a culture – at least one phase of that culture – in its twilight.”
Pierre Mejlak remarked of ‘Eel’: “with Hemingway-esque simplicity, Stefanie Seddon tells the unforgettable story of a boy on an eel-fishing trip with his friends. It’s a story about childhood slowly making way for adulthood through an experience many readers can relate to. It’s an exceptional short story, full of insights into life, beautiful imagery and heartfelt emotions, meriting the title of regional best.”
The regional winners will now compete to be selected as the Overall Winner of the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, to be announced at the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica on 5 June.
Commonwealth Writers has partnered with Granta magazine to give regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize the opportunity to be published by Granta online. ‘Black Milk’ is now available to read on from, and ‘Eel’ will be there from 25 May.
Granta’s online editor Luke Neima said:
“We here at Granta are delighted to be entering a fifth year of partnership with the Commonwealth Prize, which puts a much-needed spotlight on emerging writers from around the world. Each year the prize announces a fresh and startling new crop of talent, and we’re always proud to share them with our readers.”
At the same time as the stories go up on Granta, a conversation between the regional judge and the regional winner will be available as a podcast on the Commonwealth Writers website.
Commonwealth Writers is also working with the literary agents Aitken Alexander Associates Ltd to identify writers through this year’s prize, which is part funded by the Sigrid Rausing Trust.
Regional winners:
Faraaz Mahomed, The Pigeon, South Africa
Parashar Kulkarni, Cow and Company, India
Canada and Europe
Stefanie Seddon, Eel, United Kingdom
Lance Dowrich, Ethelbert and the Free Cheese, Trinidad and Tobago
Tina Makereti, Black Milk, New Zealand
Further details of the authors and links to the winning stories can be found at:

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