Tuesday 2 June, 2020

Trini author wins top Commonwealth Short Story Prize

The author Kevin Jared Hosein, from Trinidad and Tobago, has been announced the overall winner of the world’s most global literary prize.

Having been named the Caribbean regional winner for the prize in 2015, and again this year, Hosein convinced the jury, chaired by the novelist and poet Sarah Hall, with “a truly crafted piece of fiction” that was “immediately and uniformly admired”.

In Passage, Hosein sends a midlife crisis-ridden protagonist into the wilderness in search for a mystery woman – with unforeseen consequences for others, and for himself.

Sarah Hall said: “Our winning story, Passage, was immediately and uniformly admired by the judges. It is an uncanny bar story, about a man who hears a strange tale, only to become part of the tale’s re-lived strangeness. It balances between formal language and demotic, ideas of civility and ferality, is tightly woven and suspenseful, beautifully and eerily atmospheric, and finally surprising. It is, in essence, all a reader could want from the short story form; a truly crafted piece of fiction that transports the reader into another world, upends expectations, and questions the nature of narratives and narrative consequence.”

Hosein said he didn't expect to win the top prize.

“I wasn’t expecting it. First to be among this eclectic quintet of winning stories, all with central resonating themes - happiness, connection, isolation, freedom, repression, acceptance. Then to be chosen from that, I feel incredibly honoured that this Trinidadian tale has traveled so far. I hope others in my region are inspired by this accomplishment," he said.

Hosein is the author of three books, The Beast of Kukuyo (Burt Award for Caribbean Literature), The Repenters (OCM Bocas Prize for Fiction shortlist) and Littletown Secrets. He has been twice shortlisted for the Small Axe Prize for Prose, and his work has been featured in numerous publications, such as Lightspeed, Adda and most recently, We Mark Your Memory: Writing from the Descendants of Indenture.

Run by Commonwealth Writers, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is the only prize in the world where entries can be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, English, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, and Tamil. It is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth.

The prize is judged by an international panel of writers, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth.

In 2018, Damon Galgut (Africa), Sunila Galappatti (Asia), Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm (Canada and Europe), Mark McWatt (Caribbean), and Paula Morris (Pacific) chose five regional winners – tackling issues including abortion, transgender identity, religion and mental illness – from a shortlist of 24, with 5182 stories submitted from 48 Commonwealth countries.

The winner was announced by Hall at the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize Award Ceremony at the Centre of Visual Arts and Research (CVAR) in Nicosia, Cyprus. 

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