2019 BAME Prize Longlist
We’re delighted to unveil the long-list for the 2019 Guardian 4th Estate BAME Short Story Prize. The standard of entries was incredibly high, and we want to thank everyone who submitted a story. If you weren’t successful this year, please do try again next year.
The shortlist will be announced on the 13th August 2019, and the winner on 10th September 2019 at a prize ceremony in London.
Congratulations to all the long-listed writers!
50 Rose Tower
50 Rose Tower is the story of a young man named Marcus who revisits one particular summer from his childhood in his South London tower block home. He remembers a formative event that irrevocably changed the people he lived with, and created a small legend, involving the couple that lived across from him, his best friend’s brother, and the strange man who lived downstairs. It’s about the inevitability of growing up, and realising that summer can never truly be endless, no matter how it feels.
Oluchi Ezeh is a recent English Literature graduate from Oxford University. She worked as the first Film and Theatre Editor for Onyx Magazine, a magazine for African and Caribbean students intended to encourage participation in creative fields. She has also worked in theatre as an assistant director and an actress, performing in Ntozake Shange’s ‘For Colored Girls’ in Oxford, and is currently working on other writing projects. This is her first short story.
M S Alexander
A Great Man
A Great Man follows an unnamed narrator and his wife to a live interview with the narrator’s literary hero, the former young radical author Abel Franklin Akufo. Over the course of the hour he sits in the audience, the narrator’s sense of himself and his idol twists and turns, finally breaking when Akufo attacks an audience member who challenges him, and destabilises everything in his wake.
M S Alexander was born Birmingham but raised in the United States. He has published fiction, criticism and reviews in a handful of magazines, including Flash and Under the Radar.
Across the Third Mainland Bridge
Although Kola and Lucky are separated only by a bridge, their lives in Lagos are worlds apart. Kola’s sprawling Victoria Island mansion has always shielded him from the mainland’s gritty reality. Lucky meanwhile, lives in poverty on a slum after his mother gave him up at birth. Enthralled by tales of Brazil from the enigmatic daughter of freed slaves, Mama Agu, Lucky dreams of a new beginning in Bahia. Though the bridge has always kept Kola and Lucky apart, it soon makes their lives collide in ways they could never have imagined, forcing them to confront fate, destiny and duty.
Aaron Akinyemi is a journalist, writer and filmmaker specialising in global socio-political issues, human rights and cultural criticism. His work has appeared on BBC TV and radio, CNN, ITV, The Guardian, Newsweek, ABC and the World Bank’s Affiliated Network for Social Accountability-Africa, among others. He has reported from and filmed in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and the Caribbean. Aaron is a member of the United Nations Association and a 2013 McGill Echenberg Human Rights Fellow. His poem Silenced Tongues: The Poetics of Discontent was featured in the inaugural PEN Festival of World Literature in London in 2008. Twitter: @aaronajourno
Kandace Siobhan Walker
Deep Heart follows three sisters running wild in the isolated island community where they live with their grandparents. When one of the girls disappears, her sisters search for her in the forest.
Kandace Siobhan Walker is a writer and filmmaker. She was born in Toronto to a Jamaican-Canadian mother and a Gullah-Geechee father, and raised in Britain. Her short film ‘Last Days of the Girl’s Kingdom’, produced in collaboration with ICA and DAZED, was aired on Channel 4’s Random Acts. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Black Bough, Prototype and The Good Journal. She lives in Wales, and is currently working on a novel.
Muslim parents begin protesting the inclusion of LGBTQ+ education at a local school, and Harun’s family is very clear on their stance: this is against not only their views but against Islam. So why does Harun find it so hard to agree with them, to voice his own opinion, to know where he stands?
Kasim Mohammed is a budding writer, with an essay published in On Bodies (published by Three of Cups Press). He works in publishing in editorial, and is committed to opening the doors of the industry to those who feel that they aren’t represented, both inside the pages of books and behind the scenes. He is currently working on a novel.
Once we were Warriors
Once we were Warriors is rooted in familial bonds of love and resilience, and the search of identity – whether that of a samosa, or that of a parent struggling with their child’s addiction. Set in the UK the story explores ‘them and us’ narratives and digs deep to lay bare the impact of shame, the inter-generational trauma of colonialism, yearning and the unyielding power of hope and community.
Jameen’s arrival on earth fell on a New Year’s Eve as fireworks exploded above Crawley hospital, UK. She has since had the good fortune to live and learn in different regions of the world, while following her passion to strengthen justice and equality for women and girls and people living in poverty. She passionately believes in the power of story-telling as a connector and healer of people. She has previously published some of her poems ‘Dear Mrs Bhullar’ and ‘Mind the Gap’ and continues to seek opportunities that nurture her writing. She holds a Masters in International Human Rights Law.
Packed Lunch is the story of a fraud case and a fractured family. It is a meditation on food, digital culture, transition, and – of all things – jury duty.
Jenna Mahale is a London-based freelance journalist and recent UCL graduate. Her work has been published by VICE, Dazed & Confused, and Brainchild Festival. She is currently writing for the Critics of Colour x Roundhouse collective.
#Succulove is a plant-whisperer’s first-person confession about their alleged communication with plants. Intimately observant and scientifically knowledgeable, intrusively possessive and paranoid, the protagonist perpetrates unhinged violence with cool rational justification. The plant remains silent, but with notable agency: frustrating the speaker to the point of banishing the plant to the freezer, the speaker’s identity falls apart, invaded by the presence of the plant itself. Flowers become metaphors for the expectation to appear perennially happy and successful on social media, a space full of artifice and performative illusion from which the speaker fails to emerge unscathed: trapped as a tourist in their own reality.
Jade Cuttle graduated from Cambridge with First-Class Honours in French & Russian, going on to undertake an MA in Creative Writing at UEA. Now Deputy Poetry Editor at Ambit and judging the Costa Book Awards 2019, Jade has written for the Guardian, TLS, the Observer and the Spectator. As poet and plant-whisperer, she has been commissioned to write for BBC Radio 3, BBC Proms’ Official Guide, and BBC’s Contains Strong Language Festival. She’s was a winner in the Creative Future Literary Awards, selected by Lemn Sissay, and will release an album of nature-inspired poem-songs through PRS Foundation this year.
Twitter: @JadeCuttle / www.jadecuttle.com
Tapestry is the coming of age story of a fourteen-year-old black girl named Loom, who dreams of being a storyteller. Loom is excited when she is taken to the Tapestry for her long-awaited initiation ceremony. That is until she discovers the future determined for her by the magical yarn woven into her hair. Loom’s disappointment leads to her political awakening.
Aisha Phoenix writes fiction and poetry and has had work published in: Peepal Tree Press’s Filigree poetry anthology, the Bath Flash Fiction anthology, Strange Horizons, Litro USA Online, Bards and Sages, Crack the Spine, Word Riot and the Oxonian Review of Books. She is a sociologist with a PhD in Sociology from Goldsmiths, University of London. She is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London. Aisha is a MIROnline features writer.
The Anniversary goes inside the broken and fragmented mind of Zara, who has suffered an unnamed trauma, as she goes about her day trying to bake her son’s favourite chocolate cake. The idea for the story came to me after the horrific attack by the Taliban on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, a few years ago. I found myself unable to shake this image of a grieving mother trying to get on with her life when the rest of the world has moved on from the tragedy.
Faiza Hasan has an Mst in Creative Writing from Cambridge University and an MA in Journalism from Stanford University. She has worked as a journalist in Pakistan and the US. Her short stories have received Honourable Mentions by Harpers Bazar, San Miguel Writers Conference and Glimmer Train. She has also been a general contributor at the prestigious Bread Loaf Writers Conference. She lives in Berkshire with her husband, two boys and Tintin the dog. She is currently working on her first novel.
The Cat by The Incredible Jimmy Smith
In 1960s London, the discovery of a jazz record bought in secret causes marital strife between a young Caribbean couple. The consequences are disastrous.
Sonia Hope is a North-East Londoner of Jamaican and Trinidadian heritage. She is a Jerwood/Arvon mentee (fiction) 2019/20, mentored by Nicholas Royle. Her stories have appeared in The Nottingham Review, Flash Flood, Flight Journal and Ellipsis Zine. She is the Librarian at the Heinz Archive & Library, National Portrait Gallery.
The Hyacinth Girls
Set in the height of the rainy season, The Hyacinth Girls is a coming-of-age tale exploring the fraught legacies of colonialism through the lives and loves of two teenage girls in Lagos.
Arenike is a London based writer who grew up between Lagos and the UK. She is a recent graduate of Cambridge University. Her writing is influenced by the work of Akwaeke Emezi, Toyin Ojih Odutola and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.
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