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NZ writer Harley Hern named Commonwealth Short Story Prize regional winner

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New Zealand writer Harley Hern has been named the regional winner for the Pacific in the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, for her story ‘Screaming’.

Hern’s story, about two friends who confront deceit, identity and endings during a visit to a New Zealand care home, was chosen from a shortlist that also included New Zealand writer Maria Samuela and Australian Emma Ashmere.

Four other women were announced as winners in the other regions: Zambian writer Mbozi Haimbe’s ‘Madam’s Sister’ won for Africa; Malaysian writer Saras Manickam’s ‘My Mother Pattu’ won for Asia; Cypriot writer Constantia Soteriou’s ‘Death Customs’ won for Canada and Europe; and Bahamian writer Alexia Tolas’s ‘Granma’s Porch’ won for the Caribbean.

Held annually to find the best short piece of unpublished fiction, the prize selects a winner each from five Commonwealth areas who all have a chance of securing the main award. This year’s international judging panel, chaired by novelist Caryl Phllips, chose five stories from a 21-strong shortlist following 5,081 submissions.

Phillips said: “The regional winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize explore a remarkably diverse range of subject-matter, including stories about war, love, abuse and neglect. What unites the stories is a common thread of narrative excellence and dramatic intensity. The voices of a truly global cast of characters enable us to engage with, and recognise, universal emotions of pain and loss.”

Each story will now be published online before the overall winner is announced on 9th July and published in Granta.

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