Posted by: Lisa Hill | April 10, 2013

Australian, New Zealand writers shortlisted for 2013 Commonwealth Writers Prize

Changes to the 2013 Commonwealth Writers Prize means that the award is for debut novelists only.

On the 2013 short list, (which is really rather long) there are five Aussie authors, of whom I have reviewed four:

  • Sarah House, Ifeanyi Ajaegbo (Nigeria)
  • Disposable People, Ezekel Alan (Jamaica)
  • Floundering, Romy Ash (Australia) See my review.
  • Running the Rift, Naomi Benaron (Canada)
  • Mazin Grace, Dylan Coleman (Australia) See my review.
  • Tiger in Eden, Chris Flynn (Australia) See Karenlee Thompson’s guest review.
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Howard Fry, Rachel Joyce (United Kingdom)
  • The Headmaster’s Wager, Vincent Lam (Canada) See Kevin’s review at Kevin from Canada.
  • Island of a Thousand Mirrors, Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka)
  • The Death of Bees, Lisa O’Donnell (United Kingdom)
  • The Spider King’s Daughter, Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria)
  • Em and the Big Hoom, Jerry Pinto (India)
  • The Wildings, Nilanjana Roy (India)
  • The Great Agony & Pure Laughter of the Gods, Jamala Safari (South Africa)
  • The Last Thread, Michael Sala (Australia)
  • The Other Side of Light, Mishi Saran (India)
  • God on Every Wind, Farhad Sorabjee (India)
  • Sterile Sky, E.E. Sule (Nigeria)
  • Narcopolis, Jeet Thayil (India) See my review.
  • Beneath the Darkening Sky, Majok Tulba (Australia) See my review.
  • The Bellwether Revivals, Benjamin Wood (United Kingdom)

What is striking about this list is the strength of Nigerian writing.  New Zealand writers have done well in the short story prize shortlist.

  • NOT FOR PUBLICATION,  Rachel Bush  (New Zealand)
  • A KILLING IN THE SUN,  Dilman Dila  (Uganda)
  • NORMAL,  Susan Everett  (United Kingdom)
  • CHUTNEY,  Debz Hobbs-Wyatt  (United Kingdom)
  • FATIMA SALEH, Alexander Ikawah  (Kenya)
  • THE NEW CUSTOMERS,  Julian Jackson  (South Africa)
  • NOTES FROM THE RUINS,  Anushka Jasraj  (India)
  • A GOOD FRIDAY,  Barbara Jenkins  (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • MANGO SUMMER,  Janice Lynn  (Bahamas)
  • THINGS WITH FACES,  Zoe Meager  (New Zealand)
  • THE WHALE HOUSE,  Sharon Millar  (Trinidad & Tobago)
  • NO WAR IS WORTH DEBATING, Tobenna Nwosu  (Nigeria)
  • TAKE ME HOME UNITED ROAD,  Sally-Ann Partridge  (South Africa)
  • MORTAL SINS, Sinead Roarty  (Australia)
  • WE WALKED ON WATER,  Eliza Robertson  (Canada)
  • TUG OF WAR,  Deborah Rogers  (New Zealand)
  • RAVEN, Tom Williams  (Australia)

I’ll have a hunt around to see what I can find in the way of reviews in due course … but it’s getting harder to keep up with all these awards all being announced at the same time of the year.


  1. I have reviewed one of the Canadian finalists, Vincent Lam’s The Headmaster’s Wager:


    • He won the Giller Prize a few years back for a collection of linked short stories, so I guess this did qualify as a “debut novel”. I’ll admit I was lukewarm about it.

      Haven’t even heard of the other Canadian finalist, so I’d have to say it did not have much impact.


  2. some interesting books from India on this list I thought ,such a great list ,all the best stu


  3. I have a serious deficiency in my reading tastes I think. I have a love of European culture and find it difficult to read outside the boundaries of European countries. I’ve been trying to work out why this is and understanding it completely defeats me. I’ve tried to overcome it but have failed miserably. I shall enjoy reading your review of these over the coming weeks however.


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