New UK writer Philip Nash has won the 2011 Commonwealth Short Story Competition. Nash’s winning entry, Rejoinder was inspired by the coastlines of Kent where he grew up, and the seaside towns in southern England. His carefully crafted story reflects on the beauty of the landscape with a sense of deep loss.
The chair of this year’s judging panel, Trinidadian writer and editor of the Caribbean Review of Books, Nicholas Laughlin, described why Rejoinder stood out:
“With confident economy, but without feeling hurried or curtailed, Rejoinder tells the stories of not one but two romantic relationships that end abruptly and unhappily. This piece seems to encompass decades of emotional history in little more than a page, a remarkably difficult task for any writer.”
Philip Nash said: “Winning the Commonwealth Short Story Competition has boosted my confidence no end. I hope to be able to build on this success, and see more of my work in print.”
The special prize for a story on this year’s Commonwealth theme, Women as Agents of Change, was awarded to Indian writer, Lavanya Arvind, for her inspiring story of a woman starting a family business.
The Story for Children special prize was awarded to Jamaican children’s author Diane Browne for her entry The Happiness Dress.
A children’s author and lit blogger, Brown has worked with Heinemann Caribbean, the Ministry of Education in Jamaica and on International educational projects. Her work has been published in Jamaica, the UK and the USA. She has won awards in Jamaican literary competitions and been recognized with a Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica. Her stories celebrate children’s potential to be the heroes and heroines of their own lives.
Commenting on her win in her blog, Brown said, “My reaction has caught me unawares. I admit that I am delighted and overwhelmed at getting this award, and overwhelmed at the number of persons who have congratulated me and their congratulations have been truly sincere and lovely. I’m pleased that people are happy for me. And I am giving thanks.”
She said she was honoured to receive the prize, adding that she hopes it will be a catalyst for increased interest and support for the genre, and provide children with greater access to local and Caribbean children’s books.
Head Not Make for Hat Alone by Barbara Jenkins of Trinidad and Tobago was one of four winning regional entries. “I wrote the story after a particularly dystopian morning on the road. Everything in the story is real – culled from a number of experiences and observations. So perhaps the writing was a sort of catharsis?” said Jenkins.
Jenkins has spent much of her life teaching in Trinidad and the UK. Presently she devotes her time to writing essays, research papers and short stories and is currently attending an MFA programme at the University of the West Indies. Her story Something for Nothing was one of the winning regional entries in the 2010 Commonwealth Short Story competition. She also won an award in the 2010 Wasafiri New Writing Prize for her story ‘It’s Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White’ and was the winner of the romance category of the US-based MyAfricandiaspora.com Short Story competition. Her winning story That Old Black Magic is featured in the anthology Bloodlines: Tales from the African Diaspora published by MyAfricandiaspora.com.
The other regional winning entries are:
- Martha by Basett Buyukah, Kenya
- The Maoist by Nikesh Murali, India
- Ginger Beer by Sarah Bainbridge, New Zealand
Click here to listen to the top 7 winning entries.
Funded and managed by the Commonwealth Foundation, in partnership with the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association [CBA], the Commonwealth Short Story Competition is an annual scheme to promote and inspire new creative writing for radio.
All 26 stories are available on a CD (contact Emma D’Costa at the Commonwealth Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 (0) 20 7747 6328) which will be broadcast widely around the Commonwealth. The stories are read by some of the finest readers for radio working in the United Kingdom such as the distinguished actors Nikki Amuka-Bird, Maynard Eziashi and Penny Downie as well as the accomplished actor and playwright Sudha Bhuchar.