Azags Agandaa of Ghana shortlisted in 2024 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

A book titled: ‘Fadi’ by Azags Agandaa, a Ghanaian writer has been shortlisted in the 2024 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Other African writers who make the 2024 five-strong Africa shortlist include ‘Dite’ by Reena of Mauritius; ‘House No. 49’ by Olajide Omojarabi of Nigeria; ‘The Goat’ by Jean Pierre Nikuze of Rwanda and ‘A Song Sung in Secret’ by Jayne Bauling of South Africa.

Writers from Mauritius and Rwanda are featuring for the very first time.

The Commonwealth Foundation announced this in a statement, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency said all but one had never been shortlisted before.

It said their stories feature well-drawn characters including a pensioner reflecting on forbidden love and a football-mad young boy.

It noted that the world’s most global literature prize shortlists 23 writers from 13 countries – all but one of whom are shortlisted for the first time.

The statement said Judges hail ‘a dream list’ which will leave readers ‘startled and shocked, heartbroken and humb
led in equal measure.’

It said stories range from romances and speculative fiction to family dramas and coming of age tales and address a range of topics from motherhood and bereavement to mental illness and forbidden love.

It stated that an international judging panel had shortlisted twenty-three outstanding stories for the world’s most global literature prize.

It said the shortlisted writers hail from 13 countries across the Commonwealth and their ambitious stories span continents and decades.

The statement said many of the stories were told through the eyes of children-tales of parents splitting up, of school, and of the sometimes baffling behaviour of adults around them.

It said older characters also appear-sometimes destructive, sometimes inspiring; adding that five of the stories reflect on motherhood in very different ways.

It reiterated that others tell of forbidden love in a hostile world.

It said topics range from music, football, art, film, the impact of electricity arriving in a village, an
d even one woman’s passion for tea; while romance and thrillers feature prominently, a quarter of the shortlisted stories are speculative fiction.

The statement said the Commonwealth Short Story Prize was awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from any of the Commonwealth’s 56 Member States.

It is the most accessible and international of all writing competitions: in addition to English, entries can be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, Creole, French, Greek, Malay, Maltese, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, Tamil, and Turkish.

It said such linguistic diversity in a short story in part reflects the richness of the Commonwealth, not least its many and varied literary traditions.

It indicated that this year, 414 entries were submitted in languages other than English.

It said the stories on the 2024 shortlist were selected from a total of 7,359 entries from 53 Commonwealth countries-a ten per cent increase as compared to 2023.

It said three small Commonwealth countries-Mauritius, Rwanda and
St Kitts and Nevis had authors on the shortlist for the first time.

The statement said the shortlisted writers- six men, 15 women and two who identify as non-binary-range in age from 26 to 70.

It said all but one had never been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short.

Chair of the Judges, Ugandan-British novelist and short story writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi said: ‘This is a dream list for lovers of the short story form-readers who wish to read around the world, writers who wish to hone their skills, agents looking for talent and content creators who relish the challenge of predicting regional winners and the overall winner’.

‘Whether reading stories from Africa and Asia, through Europe and Canada to the Caribbean Islands and the Pacific, you’ll be amazed and thrilled, startled and shocked, and heartbroken and humbled in equal measure by the skill and talent, imagination and creativity, by the flexibility of the form and what it is capable of, and by what the world is doing with the English language. F
or the judging panel, it has been an incredible literary journey.’

Dr Anne T. Gallagher AO, Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation, the intergovernmental organisation which administers the prize, commended everyone who entered stories in 2024.

‘The Short Story Prize is legendary for unearthing and nurturing the rich creative talent of our Commonwealth. This year is no exception and I have been overwhelmed by the depth and reach of the 2024 shortlist,’ she stated.

‘My congratulations to the 23 writers whose stories will now secure a truly global audience. And I offer my warmest encouragement to the remaining 7,336 entrants to keep on writing. Today, perhaps more than ever, it is storytelling that will help inspire the love, compassion and understanding that our world so desperately needs.’

The 2024 shortlisted stories will be published online, in the innovative online magazine of the Commonwealth Foundation, adda (, which features new writing from around the Commonwealth.

The judg
es will go on to choose a winner for each of the five regions; the regional winners will be announced on Wednesday 29 May before being published online by the literary magazine Granta.

The overall winner will be announced on 26 June 2024.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is administered by the Commonwealth Foundation.

The prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000-5000 words).

Regional winners receive £2,500 GBP and the overall winner receives £5,000 GBP.

Short stories translated into English from other languages are also eligible.

The winning stories are published online by Granta and in a special print collection by Paper + Ink.

Source: Ghana News Agency