It’s that time of the year again. Commonwealth Book and Short Story Prizes has announced it’s 21 shortlisted authors. Six Indian writers feature in the shortlist for the 2013 Commonwealth. And not surprisingly, Jeet Thayil has stormed in with his much talked about Narcopolis.
Apart from Thayil, Jerry Pinto (Em and the Big Hoom), Nilanjana Roy (The Wildings), Mishi Saran (The Other Side of Light) and Farhad Sorabjee (God on Every Wind).
For the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Anushka Jasraj’s Notes from the Ruins is among the 19 works shortlisted.
The Commonwealth Book Prize is awarded for the best first novel, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the best piece of unpublished short fiction.
Political, religious and social conflict runs through many of this year’s shortlisted entries, but there are also humorous stories, stories of hope, and stories full of imagination and power.
The entries from 54 countries are judged within the five regions of Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific, each of which will produce a regional winner for the two prizes. These will be announced on 14 May.
The final winners will be announced at the Hay Festival on 31 May.
Commenting on the shortlisted entries, chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, BBC journalist Razia Iqbal, said, ‘People often assume short stories are easier to write because they’re, well, short! But it takes a particular skill to establish mood, character and tone in quick strokes, and tell a story which leaves a lasting impression. These stories open windows on worlds which seem familiar but, through fiction, which is tightly written, reflect those worlds, in richer and more surprising colours.’
Chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Godfrey Smith, said, ‘Our five judges did an admirable job of shortlisting from a bountiful harvest of debut novels, based on originality, linguistic flair, depth, quality of writing and freshness of tone. A number of books boldly pushed the boundaries of form and explosively rebelled against the conventional structures of fiction-writing, inspiring lively and passionate debates among the judges.’