A pleasant piece of news this week – one of my stories has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2012. It’s always a pleasure to have work noticed in this way and I’m certainly grateful to the judges for the mention.
The prize is an unusual one in that, as the name suggests, it’s open to those countries which form part of the Commonwealth. There’s two parts to it – the first is a regional competition, and I understand the UK falls into a ‘Europe and Canada’ region. I’m guessing it’s only the bits of Europe which form part of the Commonwealth – so that would be the UK and, erm, Gibraltar probably. This year all four shortlisted stories from Europe and Canada are from the UK – the Canadians must have been concentrating on novels, as they are better represented in the book prize.
So the regional judges will choose a winner from the shortlist of four, one of which is mine, and that winner will get a prize. Then it’s on to the second stage where the winner from our region is judged against the other winners from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific to win the first prize.
Chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Bernardine Evaristo said, “The high quality and variety of international stories on this shortlist is fantastic. To read them is to be immersed in a wide range of cultures and situations, and to be persuaded by superbly-crafted narrative voices, different ways of seeing and being, suspenseful dilemmas and intensely-rendered emotional experiences.”
My story is called Like a Heart Maybe, but Cold, it’s about an adolescent boy whose parents seem to be on the brink of a divorce. It’s unusual for one of my stories as there’s not much humour in there. I usually chuck in a few jokes to lighten the load and many of my favourite authors are those who mix serious content with a humourous narrative voice.
But short stories are a place for experiment, at least for me anyway, and when I wrote this one I was feeling that maybe I should try to do without the jokes – just to make sure they were not becoming too much of a prop.
It will be interesting to see how it does. I don’t hold out any great hopes – there’s a decent prize on offer so I would expect some serious competition – and, in this case, that competition really does come from all over the world.
The full shortlist, and indeed the shortlist for the accompanying book prize, can be seen here http://tinyurl.com/coa6d9s