2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize: Conversations with Shortlisted Writers



Over the past few weeks, I have been in conversation with the five writers shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in the Africa region. I will be sharing these five conversations here at Africa in Dialogue over the next five days as we anticipate the announcement of the regional winner on the 2nd of June 2020, and the overall winner on the 30th of June 2020.

I am grateful to Emma D’Costa and Ruth Killick for their assistance in the early stages of this process. They made sure that I got in touch with the five writers and that I could read their short stories before beginning the conversations I will be sharing over the next few days.  I remember the first night I sat down to read the stories, expectant but not quite knowing what to expect. I laughed, I cried, I danced with joy at the victories of the protagonists. I could not wait to begin speaking with the brilliant individuals who had penned these masterpieces! 

As I began my conversations with the writers, I remembered what brought me to my understanding of the literary interview as an art form a year and a half ago: the opportunity to co-create a new narrative through the exploration of literature. Through dialogue, we explore what exists in the work we are reading and writing, but also what could have existed if alternate versions of the work had seen the light of day, or what would happen if the last line was not the end of the story but just the closing of one chapter.

I have always wanted to curate the type of conversations that would make readers feel how I feel when I have read or listened to a good interview: as if I was right there in the room, notebook in hand, facing my favourite writer, waiting to ask them a burning question about their work. So I am truly looking forward to sharing these five conversations with you all, a day at a time, from the 28th of May to the 1st of June 2020.

Below are the titles of the shortlisted stories as well as the names of the writers and their nationalities: 

‘When a Woman Renounces Motherhood’, Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Nigeria)

‘Rites Evasion Maneuvers’, Caleb Ozovehe Ajinomoh (Nigeria)

‘The Faraway Things’, Alboricah Tokologo Rathupetsane (South Africa)

‘Fatou vs. the Dictator’, ML Kejera (The Gambia)

‘The Dawning’, Aba Asibon (Ghana)

More information about the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the shortlisted writers can be found here. 


series curator: nkateko masinga

Nkateko Masinga

Nkateko Masinga is an award-winning South African poet and 2019 Fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018 and her work has received support from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg and the Swiss Arts Council. In 2019, she co-won the Brittle Paper Anniversary Award. She is the founder and managing director of NSUKU Publishing Consultancy, and the author of a digital chapbook titled THE HEART IS A CAGED ANIMAL, published by Praxis Magazine. Her latest work has been selected by the African Poetry Book Fund and Akashic Books to be published in the 2020 New Generation African Poets chapbook box set.


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