2021 4thWrite Prize Winner

We are thrilled to announce that the winner of the 2021 Guardian and 4th Estate 4thWrite Short Story Prize is Gift Nyoni with his story, The Ritual Seat of the King. Read his story here.

The Ritual Seat of the King  
The Rhodesian civil war ends and hope abounds in the new Zimbabwe, but when David’s father returns to the family home it soon becomes apparent that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and the young boy’s fascination soon turns into revulsion.

Gift was designed in Britain and assembled in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. During his first eight years in the UK he lived underground as an undocumented asylum-seeker, seeking refuge in libraries and trying to write, something he aspires to do well. He now lives out in the open in London, and is working on his first novel. He’s interested in identity, trauma, memory, and notions of home. Follow him at @literary_womble on Instagram.

Kishani Widyaratna, 4th Estate Editorial Director and 4thWrite Prize judge, said: ‘The Ritual Seat of the King is a deeply affecting, utterly compelling and vividly realised portrait of the hidden impact of war inside the homes of ordinary families.’

Aimée Felone, 4thWrite Prize judge and co-founder of Knights Of, said: ‘The Ritual Sea of the King is a rare and mastered consideration of how Britain’s colonisation of Zimbabwe has affected the familial space – truly stunning.’

As winner, Gift receives £1,000, a one-day workshop with 4th Estate editorial, publicity and marketing teams, and his story published on the Guardian website.

The Shortlist

Read all the shortlisted stories now via the links below.

A special commendation from the judges goes to Inigo Laguda and his story Hopscotch.

Kishani Widyaratna said: ‘Hopscotch is a bold and striking new voice that isn’t afraid to take thematic and formal risks. I can’t wait to see what this author does next.’

Inigo Laguda – Hopscotch 

Unstuck in time, A Black boy raised in a homogeneously white commuter-town hurtles between libidinal incidents that have shaped him. 

Follow him at @saveinigo on Twitter and Instagram.

Laura Blake – Home Is Not Here 

Home Is Not Here  
When she was seven years old, Birdie Brown left Jamaica with her parents to begin a new life in England. Now, at the age of seventy, she faces being deported back to a country she barely remembers.

Follow her at @LauraJBlake on Twitter.

Amaan Hyder – Postpositions

Postpositions comprises thirty reflections by an unnamed narrator concerning inheritance, queerness and late nineties-early noughties television. 

Follow him at @hyder_amaan on Twitter.

Sulaxana Hippisley – Cadaver

On the eve of a dinner party, a young woman encounters the aftermath of the Sri Lankan civil  war.

Nicola Sheppey – Pontianak 

A young woman is placed in postpartum confinement and feels a malevolent presence threatening to invade.  
Follow her at @NicolaSheppey on Twitter and Instagram.

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