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Commonwealth Foundation

Commonwealth Writers has announced the regional winners for this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The five stories have risen to the top of the 4,000 entries received this year. The South African author, Faraaz Mahomed, is the regional winner for Africa for his story ‘The Pigeon’.

Faraaz Mahomed is a clinical psychologist and human rights researcher based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He also holds academic fellowships with the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg. He said of his win: “I am an unseasoned writer, who continues to struggle with the insecurities and anxieties of inexperience. Winning the Commonwealth Prize for the African region is more than an accolade, it's a prompting to continue down this path.”

In its fifth year, the Prize is for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English. The Prize is judged by an international panel of writers, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. The 2016 judges are Helon Habila (Africa), Firdous Azim (Asia), Pierre Mejlak (Canada and Europe), Olive Senior (Caribbean) and Patrick Holland (Pacific).

“The Africa region included stories on almost every conceivable theme, accentuating the endless complexity and beauty of the continent; a testament to the inexhaustible talent that abounds there,” commented regional judge Helon Habila. “‘The Pigeon’ is a carefully and patiently woven tale about love, lust, guilt, and escape. It illustrates just how, as humans, we will always come short of our ideals, and we must learn to live with that.”

The regional winners will now compete to be selected as the Overall Winner of the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, to be announced at the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica on 5 June.

Commonwealth Writers has partnered with Granta magazine to give regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize the opportunity to be published by Granta online. ‘The Pigeon’ will be available to read on from 18 May.

Granta’s online editor Luke Neima said: “We here at Granta are delighted to be entering a fifth year of partnership with the Commonwealth Prize, which puts a much-needed spotlight on emerging writers from around the world. Each year the prize announces a fresh and startling new crop of talent, and we’re always proud to share them with our readers.”

At the same time, a conversation between the regional judge and the regional winner will be available as a podcast on the Commonwealth Writers website.

Commonwealth Writers is also working with the literary agents Aitken Alexander Associates Ltd to identify writers through this year’s prize, which is part funded by the Sigrid Rausing Trust.

Regional winners:


Faraaz Mahomed, The Pigeon, South Africa


Parashar Kulkarni, Cow and Company, India

Canada and Europe

Stefanie Seddon, Eel, United Kingdom


Lance Dowrich, Ethelbert and the Free Cheese, Trinidad and Tobago Pacific

Tina Makereti, Black Milk, New Zealand