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Sharon Millar and Eliza Robertson Tie for Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2013

Sharon Millar and Eliza Roberston cop the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Sharon Millar (Trindad and Tobago) and Eliza Robertson (Canada) have created the unprecedented feat of leaving the judges in a deadlock resulting in a joint win of the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Competition. Millar’s ‘The Whale House’ and Robertson’s ‘We Walked on Walter’ were announced as the winners during the UK’s Hay Festival on May 31, 2013.

In a statement posted on commonwealthwriters.org, Razia Iqbal, chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, noted that the tie was reflective of the overall quality of both works.

”It is a measure of the quality we had to choose from in the shortlist, that we unanimously settled on two joint winners,” Iqbal said. “It was impossible to decide between them, though each one is quite distinctly different from the other. Both fulfilled our criteria of excellence in style, originality and tone.”

To cop the win, Millar and Robertson had to stave off the pens of Julian Jackson (South Africa), Zoe Meager (New Zealand) and Michael Mendis (Sri Lanka). Both writers expressed incredulity at having copped the prize.

“It’s almost impossible to describe the delight and excitement of winning The Commonwealth Short Story Prize,” Millar said, expressing her honour and gratitude at representing her homeland and the rest of the Caribbean. “For writers who live far from the metropolis, prizes such as this are a dream come true.”
Millar pointed out that the win provides motivation to keep writing. “I’d like to thank my story The Whale House for bringing me along for the ride,” she said.
“I feel both grateful and not-quite-believing to be selected as one of the overall winners of this prize” Robertson said. She explained that shortly after submitting her entry, the possibility of winning had been a very distant thing as no one real to her had ever won.

“Early on, when I mentioned to someone that I had submitted an entry, I immediately qualified it with: ‘But no one real ever wins those prizes.’ What I meant, I think, was: ‘No one real to me ever wins those prizes.’ Or, specifically: ‘I don’t win those prizes.’,” Robertson explained. “But here we are. I am thrilled to be proven wrong, and thankful for the opportunity to share my work,” she said.

Iqbal noted that ‘We Walked on Walter’ and the ‘The Whale House’ are works of quality which should have a lasting impact. “Both these stories stay in the imagination and the heart, long after they have been read,” she said.

The short stories have been published by Granta magazine.