June 14, 2024

‘House No. 49’ by Nigeria’s Omojarabi makes Commonwealth Prize shortlist 2024

  • April 25, 2024
  • 3 min read
‘House No. 49’ by Nigeria’s Omojarabi makes Commonwealth Prize shortlist 2024

* Writers from Mauritius, Rwanda and St. Kitts and Nevis shortlisted first time

By Editor

THE Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist FOR 2024 was announced on 17 April. Twenty-three writers were selected for the shortlist after 7,359 entered stories for this year’s prize. Out of the 23 shortlisted, only one Nigerian writer, Olajide Omojarabi, made it out of the five African writers one each from Ghana, South Africa, Rwanda and Mauritius. Twenty three writers have been selected from 7,359 entries in a record-breaking year for the shortlist. This year’s shortlist hails from 13 Commonwealth countries. Writers from Mauritius, Rwanda and St. Kitts and Nevis make the shortlist for the very first time.

The shortlist includes ‘A River Then the Road’ by Pip Robertson from New Zealand, ‘Dite by Reena Usha Rungoo from Mauritius, ‘Nobody Owns a Fire’ by Jennifer Severn from Australia, ‘Mananangal by M Donato from New Zealand, ‘Wrinkle Release’ by Stefan Bindley-Taylor from Trinidad and Tobago, ‘So Clean’ by Anna Woods from New Zealand, ‘You Had Me at Aloe’ by Ark Ramsay from Barbados, ‘Terre Brulee’ by Celeste Mohammed from Trinidad and Tobago and ‘Thambi, Thambi by Bharath Kumar from India, ‘Aishwarya Rai’ by Sanjana Thakur from India, ‘Mother May I’ by Ajay Patri from India, ‘When Things End’ by Sarah Balakrishnan from Canada, ‘What Burns’ by Julie Bouchard from Canada.

Others are ‘Your Own Dear, Obedient Daughters’ by F.E. Choe from Canada, ‘Milk’ by Eaton Hamilton from Canada, ‘Sookie Woodrow Goes to Heaven’ by Ceilidh Michelle from Canada, ‘The Devil’s Son’ by Portia Subran from Trinidad and Tobago, ‘Fadi’ by Azags Agandaa from Ghana, ‘House No. 49’ by Olajide Omojarabi from Nigeria, ‘A Song Sung in Secret’ by Jayne Bauling from South Africa, ‘The Goat’ by Jean Pierre Nikuze from Rwanda, ‘The Marriage Proposal’ by Heather Archibald from St Kitts and Nevis, and ‘The Woman Upstairs’ by Audrey Tan from Singapore.

Many of the stories are told through the eyes of children – tales of parents splitting up, of school, and of the often baffling behaviour of adults around them. Older characters also appear – sometimes of the destructive, sometimes inspiring. Five of the stories reflect on motherhood in very different ways. Other tell of forbidden love in a hostile world. Topics range from music, art, football, film, the impact of electricity arriving in a village, and even one woman’s passion for tea. While romance and thriller feature prominently, nearly a quarter of the shortlisted stories are speculative fiction.

Chair of judges, Uganda-British novelist and short story writer, Jennifer Nansubugar Makumbi says, “This is a dream list for lovers of the short story form. You will be amazed and thriller, startled and shocked, and heartbroken and humbled in equal measures by all the skill and talent, imagination and creativity.”

Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation, Dr. Anne T. Gallagher OA, added, “The short Story Prize is legendary for unearthing and nurturing the rich creative talent of our Commonwealth. This year is no exception. My congratulations to the 23 writers whose stories will now secure a truly global audience.”

Five regional winners will be announced on May 29, 2024, and the overall winner will be announced on June 26, 2024.

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