The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth. Regional winners each receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000.
The regional winners of the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize have been announced as: The Undertaker’s Apprentice by Hana Gammon (South Africa, Africa), Oceans Away from my Homeland by Agnes Chew (Singapore, Asia), Lech, Prince, and the Nice Things by Rue Baldry (United Kingdom, Canada and Europe), Ocoee by Kwame McPherson (Jamaica, Caribbean) and Kilinochchi by Himali McInnes (New Zealand, Pacific).
The five regional winning stories were published online by the literary magazine Granta on 24 May. They will also be published in a special print edition by Paper + Ink, available online and in bookshops from 27 June.
Rue Baldry is a British author represented by Blake Friedmann. She lives in York, has a Creative Writing MA from Leeds University, was a Bridge Awards Emerging Writer, Jerwood/Arvon mentee, and was longlisted for Women’s Prize Discoveries. Her twenty-four story publications include stories in Ambit, Mslexia, Fairlight Shorts, Litro, Honest Ulsterman, MIR, and The First Line. Her work has placed in several competitions, including coming second in the Yeovil Prize. Her debut novel, Dwell, is currently on submission.
Lech, Prince, and the Nice Things is the story of a young, Black plasterer who is drawn to committing petty acts of revenge against his employer’s neglected possessions, and risks becoming more diminished than those status symbols.
“I feel very honoured that ‘Lech, Prince and the Nice Things’, has been chosen as a regional winner of the prize, out of so many stories by so many serious and, judging by previous years, talented and engaging writers. It is pleasing beyond words, but also feels somewhat bizarre, that the story of a character who for many months existed only inside my mind, has been experienced, even more so appreciated, by such esteemed, knowledgeable judges, and is now going to be shared with so many more readers through Granta.”
Katrina Best, Judge (Canada and Europe) said of Rue’s story:
“A genuinely surprising and unexpectedly moving story that explores such weighty–and timely–topics as racism, classism and inequality in modern-day Britain, yet is never heavy-handed thanks to the writer’s comedic sensibility and talent for observing the minutiae of everyday life. The writer’s considerable skill is evident in every element of this story, including deft observations, evocative descriptions, fully realised, complex and sympathetic characters, believable dialogue, and an expertly crafted narrative that is infused throughout with wry humour… A very well deserved win, and I look forward to reading more work by this talented author in the future.”
This year there were a total of 6,642 entries from 56 Commonwealth countries, with 28 writers from 19 different Commonwealth countries making the final shortlists. The overall winner is selected from the list of regional winners, and will be announced in an online ceremony on 27 June.
Find out more on the Commonwealth Foundation website.