Call for entries: Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize

The Commonwealth Foundation has issued a call for entries for the new Commonwealth Book Prize and Commonwealth Short Story Prize.  The prizes are part of a new initiative, Commonwealth Writers, an online hub to inspire, inform and create a community of writers from all over the world. Commonwealth Writers, coupled with the prizes, signal a renewal of the organizers’ mission to unearth, develop and promote the best new fiction from across the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Book Prize will be awarded for best first book and is open to writers who have had their first novel (full length work of fiction) published between 1 January and 31 December 2011.

Both prizes are open to Commonwealth citizens aged 18 or over from the regions Africa; Asia; Canada and Europe; the Caribbean; and the Pacific.

Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £10,000. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000-5000 words). Regional winners receive £1,000 and the overall winner receives £5,000. The winners will be announced in June 2012.

Margaret Busby is the chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize. Born in Ghana and educated in Britain she was co-founder and editorial director of the London-based publishing house Allison & Busby Limited. For the past twenty years she has worked independently as a writer, editor, critic, consultant and broadcaster, and has been a judge for several literary awards. Ms Busby said, “The significance of a prize such as this becomes greater with each year.  It is vital to encourage and celebrate the talent of newly emerging novelists whose words have the potential to inspire and enrich the entire literary world.  Searching out and promoting the best first books of fiction internationally is a serious task, a great honour and a wonderful challenge.”

Chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Bernardine Evaristo said, “This wonderful prize will turn the spotlight on the increasingly popular short story form and aims to support and encourage short story writers worldwide.” British-born Bernardine Evaristo is the author of six books. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts, she has co-edited a number of poetry anthologies and has taught creative writing worldwide. Her book reviews appear in the Times, Guardian, Independent and Financial Times and she has written for theatre and BBC radio. She, too, has judged several literary awards.

As one of the Commonwealth Foundation’s culture programmes, Commonwealth Writers works in partnership with international literary organisations, the wider cultural industries and civil society to help writers develop their craft. It’s a forum where members can debate the future of publishing, get advice from established authors and ask questions of the Commonwealth Foundation’s writer in residence.

Commonwealth Foundation Director, Danny Sriskandarajah said “As one of the Commonwealth Foundation’s flagship projects, I’m delighted that we’re putting the prizes firmly on the contemporary map of new writing and launching a dedicated Commonwealth Writers website to extend our global reach.”

For rules, entry and eligibility information visit

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