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UNILAG pharmacy student makes prestigious shortlist for 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

The Nigerian writer is the only representative from the country among 28 writers from 19 countries.
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Habiba Bekinwari Dokubo-Asari, a 500-level Pharmacy student at the University of Lagos, has been shortlisted for the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The Nigerian writer is the only representative from the country among 28 writers from 19 countries.

Her first-time nomination comes from her short story titled ‘Arboretum,’ which delves into collective and personal grief and how one navigates through tragedy.

Dokubo-Asari has been shortlisted for the African regional prize alongside two Kenyan writers and three from South Africa.

The competition has categories for other regions, including Asia, Canada & Europe, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

The judges, representing the five Commonwealth regions, will announce the regional winners on May 17, 2023, while the overall winner will be announced on June 27, 2023.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is an annual award that recognizes the best unpublished short fiction between 2,000 and 5,000 words. It is open to citizens of member states of the Commonwealth of Nations who are aged 18 and above. The prize is presented by Commonwealth Writers, a cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation that connects and inspires writers across the Commonwealth.

Winning or being shortlisted for the prize offers various opportunities to writers and serves as a boost to their writing careers. The judging panel for the 2023 competition includes five judges, each representing a different region of the Commonwealth.

The five judges will join the Chair Bilal Tanweer on the 2023 judging panel. They are: Rwandan-born writer, photographer and editor, Rémy Ngamije (Africa); Sri Lankan author and publisher Ameena Hussein (Asia); British-Canadian author Katrina Best (Canada and Europe); Saint Lucian poet and novelist Mac Donald Dixon (Caribbean); and New Zealand’s former Poet Laureate, Dr. Selina Tusitala Marsh (Pacific).

The shortlisted writers tackle diverse subjects such as illness, human trafficking, relationships, hope, and family secrets, among others. The writers range in age from 20 to 74 and include 18 women and 10 men.

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