Mailbox – Commonwealth Short Story Prize

I have opened two rejections in my mailbox in the past hour. That acknowledgment (after several books and more than 10 years as a published writer) is made in the spirit of commiseration with anyone feeling discouraged today as they navigate this writing life.

The first rejection “yada yada yada” ended with “Your work came very close! Please try us next year.” And I will. I joke that it’s because writers are masochists but I think it’s because a commitment to the writing life means picking yourself up, skinned knees and all, and walking on until your legs give out … or maybe until you find something that pulls you as much as the writing life does.

And so, turning to that other entry from the rejection file, to the 1476 5182 short story writers at all different stages and levels of this writing life from all over the Commonwealth who didn’t make the cut for this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize, I want to take a moment to say (to all of us, because rejections are a part of the writing life but they still suck) be encouraged, keep writing, keep striving to be better writers, stay on that road. And put some iodine on those knees.

Now shake off the dispiritedness and any badmindness you may be feeling (let’s be real), and join me in saying to the writers of the 24 shortlisted stories, big up yuh chest!


You’ve earned it.

Big up especially to the Caribbean writers making the cut Jamaicans Marcus Bird (An Elephant in the Kingdom) and Sharma Taylor (Son Son’s Birthday), perennial finalist of this and other Prizes (and published author) Trinidad and Tobago writer Kevin Hosein (Passage), and Breanne McIvor, also of T & T (The Boss). Caribbean to the World!

The regional winners – i.e. winners from the Caribbean, Canada and Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific – will be announced in late June, and the overall winner in late July.

Here now is the shortlist.

As with all content (words, images, other) on, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight,  Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). All Rights Reserved. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.

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