The 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize Regional Winners Announced

The regional winners of the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize have been announced with Australian author, Michael Sala, named the winner of the Pacific region for his book, The Last Thread.


The Commonwealth Book Prize and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize act as catalysts to target and identify talented writers, and to create environments where alliances of writers in remote places and those with limited or no publishing infrastructure, can flourish. Each regional winner has been granted £2500 in prize money.

You can read more about the prize here.

Here is the full list of winners:


Africa - Sterile Sky by E.E. Sule (Nigeria)


sterileAs the gifted young Murtala comes of age in Kano, violent riots and his family’s own woes threaten to erase all he holds dear. Stalked by monsters real and imagined, desperate to preserve a sense of self and the future, Murtala hunts for answers in the wreckage of the city – and gives us a unique insight into modern life in northern Nigeria.

About the author:

E.E. Sule is the pen-name of Dr. Sule E. Egya who is an associate professor in Department of English, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, Nigeria. His poems, short stories, and critical work have appeared in numerous journals, anthologies and literary magazines. Sterile Sky is his first novel.


Asia - Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka)


thousandIsland of a Thousand Mirrors* follows the fate of two families, one Tamil, one Sinhala as they straddle opposite sides of the long and brutal Sri Lankan civil war.*

Narrated by the eldest daughter of each family, the story explores how each woman negotiates war, migration, love, exile, and belonging. At its root, it’s a story of a fragmented nation struggling to find its way to a new beginning.

About the author:

Nayomi Munaweera is a Sri Lankan-American author and artist. Having migrated to Nigeria when she was very young and later to America, she continued visiting Sri Lanka regularly, witnessing the devastation wrought upon her country of birth by civil war. These experiences led her to write her first novel, Island of a Thousand Mirrors, which was published by the Perera Hussein Publishing House in late 2012.


Canada and Europe - The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell (United Kingdom)


death*Two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents.*

Marnie and her little sister Nelly are on their own now. Only they know what happened to their parents, Izzy and Gene, and they aren’t telling. While life in Glasgow’s Hazlehurst housing estate isn’t grand, they do have each other. Besides, it’s only one year until Marnie will be considered an adult and can legally take care of them both.

As the new year comes and goes, Lennie, the old man next door, realizes that his young neighbours are alone and need his help. Or does he need theirs? But he’s not the only one who suspects something isn’t right. Soon, the sisters’ friends, their other neighbours, the authorities, and even Gene’s nosy drug dealer begin to ask questions. As one lie leads to another, dark secrets about the girls’ family surface, creating complications that threaten to tear them apart.

About the author:

Lisa O’Donnell won the Orange Screenwriting Prize in 2000 for her screenplay The Wedding Gift. Recently she took a break from screenwriting when she moved to LA with her two children. Her debut novel, The Death of Bees was published in 2012.


Caribbean - Disposable People by Ezekel Alan (Jamaica)


disposable*Ten year old Kenneth Lovelace often went to bed without dinner. Instead of feeling hunger, however, what he mostly felt was fear and shame, knowing that his family’s poverty was the reason he had no food.*

Kenneth also recalls his bitterness whenever his parents locked him out of their tiny, one-room house to act on their ‘urge’. This was in the 1970s, when Jamaica’s socialist regime was dragging the country into bankruptcy, and when an Old Timer had told him that he was cursed since birth.

Beginning with his earliest memories, *Disposable People traces the life of Kenneth Lovelace, now a consultant living in the USA. After a string of failed marriages, bad relationships and other misfortunes, Kenneth looks back at his life in his old, hateful village with hopes of finding the roots of his latest tragedy. What comes out is a story of mischief and adventures, sex, prejudice, evil spirits, adversities and, progressively, violence.*

About the author:

Ezekel Alan was born and raised in rural Jamaica and spent his formative years under the Socialist regime of the 1970s. He currently lives with his wife and kids in an architecturally noteworthy house in Asia, has a good, reliable dog and a satisfyingly abundant supply of sweet, juicy mangoes. Inspired by true events, Disposable People is Ezekel’s debut novel. He is currently working on his second.


Pacific - The Last Thread by Michael Sala (Australia)


lastThe Last Thread* is Michael Sala’s fascinating life in fiction. From his early years in the Netherlands to growing up in Australia during the 1980s, Michael recalls the secret surrounding his estranged Greek father and how scandalous events from the past fractured his family.*

This is a moving chronicle of a boy’s turbulent relationship with his bullying stepfather, aloof older brother and adored mother, whose cheerful apathy has devastating consequences. As his life unfolds, Michael – now a father – must decide if he can free himself from the dark pull of the past.

Reminiscent of the great autobiographical novels of JM Coetzee and Michael Ondaatje, The Last Thread is a beautifully crafted work from an exceptional new writer.

About the author:

Michael Sala is an Australian writer and teacher. His short fiction has been published in various anthologies, including The Best Australian Stories three times. In 2007, he was shortlisted for the Australian/Vogel Literary Award. The Last Thread, published by Affirm Press in 2012, is his first novel.


You can read more about the regional winners here.

The judging panel, which included our very own Books Division Manager Martin Shaw, will announce an overall winner on May 31 to receive £10,000 in prize money.