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Four Writers from Jamaica and Trinidad Make Commonwealth Writers Shortlist

Four Writers from Jamaica & Trinidad and Tobago - Commonwealth Writers Shortlist

Four Caribbean writers hailing from Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago made their way to the shortlist for the 2018 Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize. The 2018 list features 24 stories from only 7 of the over 40 eligible countries and territories. 

The two Jamaicans who made the list are Sharma Taylor and Marcus Bird while Kevin Jared Hosein and Breanne Mc Ivor hail from Trinidad. Interestingly, it is Hosein’s second time to the list, having been a regional prize winner in 2015. 

Hosein’s 2018 entry is ‘Passage’ which tells the story of a man, who while going through a mid-life crisis, decides to go on a hike up a mountain. On the way, he encounters a child’s skull near a mysterious house. Hosein is the author of three novels. His most recent is Beast of Kukuyo which won second prize in the 2017 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. His other works are The Repenters (OCM Bocas Prize for Fiction shortlist) and Littletown Secrets. His work has been featured in numerous publications, such as Lightspeedadda and most recently, We Mark Your Memory: Writing from the Descendants of Indenture.

His countrywoman Breane Mc Ivor makes her way to the list with ‘The Boss’. In that story, a boy goes to a job interview with the CEO of SFK Advertising. At first, the CEO asks about his résumé; but then he asks what the boy knows about Sunny ‘The Boss’ Boodram, Trinidad’s most notorious drug lord. Mc Ivor is a winner of The Caribbean Writer’s David Hough Literary Prize (2015). Her £work has appeared in Commonwealth Writers’ adda, Akashic Books’ Duppy Thursdays, and Corvus Review. She is currently working on her first collection of short stories.

Sharma Taylor comes to the 2018 list with ‘Son Son’s Birthday’ a story that explores family, mental illness, perception, loss and redemption. Taylor’s work has medaled in Barbados’s annual National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA) Literary Competition. She has been published in the Arts Etc NIFCA Winning Words Anthology (2015/2016)Bearing Witness 1 and 2- The Best of the Observer Arts Magazine (2000/2001) and Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing.

Marcus Bird’s ‘An Elephant in Kingston’ is the final Caribbean story on the list. The short story presents a disgruntled accountant finds himself obsessed with the origin of an Elephant which mysteriously appears in the city centre of Kingston. Bird is a writer, filmmaker and photographer.  He has written three books, which all draw from his time as a photographer, filmmaker and world traveler. 

The 2018 prize was adjudicated by Sarah Hall (United Kingdom) as chair along with Damon Galgut (South Africa), Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm (Canada) and Mark McWatt (Guyana). 

Writers from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Canada and Europe, and the Pacific may enter the annual competition. Regional winners receive £2,500 each, while the overall winner receives £5,000.