Belfast Telegraph

Trinidadian writer Kevin Jared Hosein wins 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Hosein won £5,000 for his tale Passage.

Trinidadian writer Kevin Jared Hosein has been announced as the winner of the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize at a ceremony in Cyprus.

The prize, now in its seventh year, is awarded to the best piece of unpublished short fiction between 2,000-5,000 words long by an author from a Commonwealth territory.

Biology teacher Hosein won £5,000 as the prize’s overall winner for his tale Passage, which tells the story of an ageing forestry worker who finds a skull while climbing a dangerous mountain trail.

Hosein had made the shortlist for the prize after being crowned the Caribbean regional winner, which he also won in 2015. He fended off the challenge from winning authors from Africa, Canada and Europe, Asia and the Pacific, who each received £2,500.

Speaking after his victory, Hosein said: “I wasn’t expecting it. First to be among this eclectic quintet of winning stories, all with central resonating themes of happiness, connection, isolation, freedom, repression, acceptance.

“Then to be chosen from that, I feel incredibly honoured that this Trinidadian tale has travelled so far. I hope others in my region are inspired by this accomplishment.”

Hosein previously revealed that he based the propagandist of his story on a real-life forestry worker who he met while taking his students out on a field trip.

Hosein noticed that the man would tell jokes to the students when he felt he was losing their attention during a talk, a recognition that he struggled to keep people caring about the environment and wider problems in Trinidad and Tobago.

The prize is judged by an international panel of writers, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth.

The chair of the jury, novelist and poet Sarah Hall, said Hosein’s winning story is “in essence, all a reader could want from the short story form”.

She added: “A truly crafted piece of fiction that transports the reader into another world, upends expectations, and questions the nature of narratives and narrative consequence.”

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is the only literary prize in the world where entries can be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, English, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, and Tamil.

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