Kwame McPherson wins the 2023 acclaimed Commonwealth prize

Jamaican writer Kwame McPherson has emerged as the winner of the prestigious 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, captivating readers and judges alike with his remarkable storytelling skills. McPherson’s compelling narrative, titled “Ocoee”, triumphed over a pool of 6,641 talented writers from across the Commonwealth nations.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize, established in 2012, aims to promote and celebrate the diversity of storytelling within the Commonwealth. Each year, the prize recognizes the outstanding works of emerging and established writers, showcasing the richness and depth of literary talent across the globe.

McPherson’s winning story impressed the judging panel with its profound exploration of writing about a world that has been destroyed without any traces. In delving into the narrative of the African-Americans murdered in a brutal, racially aggravated attack in November 1920 naming a town in Florida, the story accomplished in achieving the thorny task with simplicity, humility, and real heart, said Bilal Tanweer, Pakistani writer and the Chair of the Judges. Through his skilled prose, the Jamaican author delved into the complexities of African American reality and history, and Caribbean folklore, offering readers a unique and thought-provoking perspective.

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An extract from Ocoee “There was a loud whoosh, then total silence until night creatures slowly and quietly made their presence known once again. I raised my head. The officers and their cruiser were gone. The place they once stood, vacant, like they never existed”,creates intrigues that imbues the short story with life.

Born and raised in Jamaica, Kwame McPherson has been honing his craft for several years, delving into various genres and styles of writing. His dedication and passion for storytelling shine through in his winning piece, which resonated deeply with both readers and the judging panel.

In addition to the honor of winning the prize, Kwame McPherson will receive a cash award of £5,000 , further supporting his writing journey and enabling him to continue crafting captivating stories.The Commonwealth Short Story Prize has consistently demonstrated its commitment to promoting literary excellence and encouraging cultural exchange within the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize not only offers recognition and exposure to talented writers but also provides them with a platform to share their stories with a global audience. It also illustrated the power that short stories have in connecting thousands of people from every corner of civil society, and to helps to imagine a more just and democratic world.

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