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Single Caribbean Entry Makes 2013 CWW Shortlist

CWW Bookprize 2013 Shortlist

Twenty-One writers from across the Commonwealth are vying for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize. Interestingly, as with 2012, the Caribbean has only a sole writer shortlisted for the regional prize. Disposable People the debut novel of Ezekel Alan, a Jamaican currently residing in Asia, is the only shortlisted entry.

The absence of Caribbean entries comes despite the widening of eligibility to include self-published novels and texts in translation. However, Disposable People is a self-published novel. Since 2012, the regional prizes have been re-classified to represent Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Pacific and UK and Canada.

Nigeria dominated the entries from Africa. Shortlisted novels for the regional prize are Sarah House by Ifeanyi Ajaegbo (Nigeria). Ajaegbo is a previous regional winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Competition. Chibundo Onuzo’s The Spider King’s Daughter is the second shortlisted novel by a Nigerian. Sterile Sky by E.E. Sule completes the three entries form that country. Sule is a poet and essayist with the short story collections Heavens and Dream and Shame and poetry anthologies Knifing Tongues, and What the Sea Told Me already to his credit. The entrants from Africa are rounded off with The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods by South African author and poet Jamala Safari.

Four Australian writers are vying for the Pacific regional prize. The list of Australian entrants comprises essayist  Romy Ash with Floundering. Mazin Grace by Dylan Coleman, Tiger in Eden by Chris Flynn and The Last Thread by Michael Sala. Sala is a widely anthologized short story writer. Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera of Sri Lanka is the sole other work competing for the pacific regional prize. Island of a Thousand Mirrors was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2012.

India has completely dominated the Asian category with five shortlisted novels. Jerry Pinto’s Em and the Big Hoom are among the novels shortlisted. Pinto has previously published a collection of poems Asylum and Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb. The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy is also shortlisted along with The Other Side of Light by Mishi Saran, God on Every Wind by Farhad Sorabjee and Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil which complete the list of novels contending for the regional prize for Asia.

Canadian writer Naomi Benaron’s exploration of Rwandan tragedy, Running the Rift, has earned her a place among the writers shortlisted for the Canada and the United Kingdom. Also shortlisted are The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (UK) and The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell (UK). The Bellwether Revivals earned Benjamin Wood the distinction of being the sole male writer shortlisted from the United Kingdom. The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam (Canada) rounds out the list of novels.

The 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize is chaired by Godfrey Smith (Belize). The winners will be announced during the 2013 Hay Festival.