The Commonwealth Short Story Prize started in 2012 with the launch of Commonwealth Writers. Free to enter and with a global reach across five continents, the Prize seeks out talented writers and brings stories from new and emerging voices to an international audience.
Stories often come from countries with little or no publishing infrastructure and from places that are marked by geographical, geopolitical or economic isolation.
The Prize attracts between 5,000 and 6,000 entries each year from almost all of the 54 countries of the Commonwealth. It is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction. You don’t need an agent, just an internet connection to submit your unpublished story of 2000-5000 words. Entry is always free and stories can be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil and Turkish, and in translation into English from any language.
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000–5,000 words). Regional winners each receive £2,500 and the opportunity to be published online by Granta magazine, and the overall winner receives £5,000. As well as English, stories are accepted in the Bengali, Chinese, French, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil and Turkish languages. Translated entries from any language into English are also eligible. If the winning story is a translation, the translator receives additional prize money.
The competition is free to enter and open to any citizen of a Commonwealth country who is aged 18 and over.
In order to be eligible to apply for the scholarship, applicants must:
- Entrants must be citizens of a Commonwealth country – please see Section 5 for the list of Commonwealth countries – or stateless persons currently residing in a Commonwealth country. The Commonwealth Foundation will request verification of citizenship status before winners are selected. Entries from citizens of non-Commonwealth countries are not eligible.
- For regional purposes, entries will be judged by country of citizenship. Where the writer has dual citizenship (of two Commonwealth countries), the entry will be judged in the region where the writer is permanently resident.
- There is no requirement for the writer to have current residence in a Commonwealth country, providing that they are a citizen of a Commonwealth country.
- Entrants must be aged 18 years or over on 1 November 2021.
- All entries will be accepted at the discretion of the Commonwealth Foundation which will exercise its judgement, in consultation with the prize chair, in ruling on questions of eligibility. The ruling of the chair on questions of eligibility is final, and no further correspondence will be entered into.
- Entries from previous overall winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize are not eligible. Entries from previous regional winners are eligible.
- Entries from current members of staff at the Commonwealth Foundation are not eligible.
- Entries must be unpublished and remain unpublished in any language until 1 May 2022.
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000–5,000 words).
Regional winners each receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000.
- Entries, including those in translation, must be made by the original author.
- Entries will only be accepted via the online entry form.
- The deadline for receipt of entries is 30 September 2021 (11.59pm in any time zone).
- Only one entry per writer may be submitted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
- The story must be the entrant’s own work.
- The story must be original work and should not have been published anywhere, in full or in part, in any language, before 1 May 2021. Published work is taken to mean published in any printed, publicly accessible form, e.g. anthology, magazine, newspaper. It is also taken to mean published online, with the exception of personal blogs and personal websites.
- Entries previously submitted to the Commonwealth Short Story Prize are not eligible.
- Entries should be submitted in English, with the following exceptions: entries from Commonwealth citizens who write in Bengali, Chinese, French, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil and Turkish and who do not have an English translation of their story, may submit their stories in the original language. English translations of short stories written in other languages are eligible if submitted by the writer (not the translator) and provided that the translator is also a citizen of a Commonwealth country.
- Simultaneous submissions are eligible as long as the entrant informs the Commonwealth Writers immediately should the story be accepted for publication elsewhere or be selected for a prize.
- Entries must be 2,000 words minimum, 5,000 words maximum (not including title).
- Entries should be uploaded in a PDF document. Please save your document as a PDF and use the title of the story as the file name. Please note that the story must not be saved as ‘Commonwealth Story’, ‘Short Story’ or any other generic title. If it is not possible to save the entry as a PDF document, it may be uploaded as a Microsoft Word document, with the file name in the same format as above. The first page should include the name of the story and the number of words.
- The author’s details should be included on the entry form. They must not be given anywhere on the uploaded document. All entries are judged anonymously. m. Where applicable, the translator’s details should be included on the entry form. n. All entries should be submitted in Arial 12-point font and double line spacing. All pages should be numbered and include a header with the title of the story.
- There are no restrictions on setting, genre or theme.
- The story should be adult fiction and must not have been written for children alone.
- Entrants agree as a condition of entry that the prize organisers may publicise the fact that a story has been entered or shortlisted for the Prize.
- Worldwide copyright of each story remains with the writer. Commonwealth Writers will have the unrestricted right to publish the winning stories (the overall winning story and the four regional winning stories) in an anthology and for promotional purposes.
- The shortlisted writers, the regional winners, and the overall winner will be expected to take part in publicity activities including social media where possible.
- The overall and regional winners will be expected to undertake a mutually acceptable programme of regional outreach activities to develop and promote Commonwealth Writers.
Method of Application
Please read these eligibility and entry rules before beginning the online entry process.
The online form is available using the link below from the opening date: 1 September 2021.
Submission of an entry is taken as acceptance of the entry rules. For any entry or eligibility queries not covered below, please email [email protected] for clarification before submitting an entry.