Six months ago the Commonwealth Foundation established Commonwealth Writers, an online hub to “inspire, inform and create a community of writers from all over the world” and to “develop and promote the best new fiction from across the Commonwealth.” The creation of the site coincided with the launch of the Commonwealth Book Prize and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, two new literary competitions to replace the twenty-five year old Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the more recent Commonwealth Short Story Competition.
Commonwealth Writers, the administrators of both the Commonwealth Book Prize and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, have now launched a new Publishing Portal equipped with a dedicated page for each Commonwealth country and an interactive map. It is hoped that the portal will stimulate discussions among participating writers and give them a platform to share opinions and ideas.
“We want to use this forum to explore publishing solutions, which could help create a fairer and more accessible publishing landscape for writers and readers,” said the administrators in their latest newsletter. Writers are encouraged to check out their country’s page and use the comment box to share their experiences.
“You’ll see a quote on each country’s page, some literary, some to inspire you and some to make you think. We’ll also be running weekly country polls to discover how you feel about key issues,” said Commonwealth Writers.
They added: “Our first focus is on the Caribbean, in response to its desire to develop a new publishing infrastructure. As part of this, Commonwealth Writers has joined forces with NGC BOCAS Lit Fest and the British Council to support writers, writing and publishing. The Caribbean Literature Action Group AG) will be launched in Port of Spain on Wednesday 25 April. The quotes on each Caribbean country’s page are from research and interviews conducted with the members of CALAG. Please respond to these in your country’s comment box and add your own thoughts; in turn these can then be shared with CALAG.
“Building on this, there’ll be a publishing debate at Hay [Festival] and we’ll be at The Literary Consultancy in London to examine international perspectives on publishing on Saturday 9 June. This event will be chaired by Ellah Allfrey deputy editor of Granta.
The shortlists for the Commonwealth Book Prize and the Commonwealth Short Story Prizewill be announced on April 24 and the five regional winners for each prize will be announced May 22. The two overall winners, one for each prize, will be selected from the regional winners. As part of a new global partnership between Commonwealth Writers and Hay Festival in Wales, the two overall winners will be announced there June 8. The prizes will be presented by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the winners will be talking to BBC Radio 4’s Harriett Gilbert about their work.