Shortlist announced for Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2021

Comma Press and the University of Central Lancashire are delighted to announce the shortlist for the fourth annual Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2021.


The shortlist includes a broad selection of writers at various stages in their careers, from a final year creative writing student to prize-winning short story writers and acclaimed play and screenwriters. 


The shortlisted writers are:

-       Solomon Jessie (a writer and visual artist who has worked with the director Joanna Hogg on two of her feature films) 

-       Jeremy Hinchliff (who has had short stories published in Spelk, Reflex Fiction, AdHoc Fiction, and anthologies An Earthless Melting Pot, and Edge of Passion)

-       Kate Carne (who won first prize for the 2021 Hammond House short story award)

-       Isabella Rona (an English and Creative Writing student at University of Birmingham) 

-       Marian McCraith (a novelist and playwright whose work has appeared on BBC Radio 4)

-       Isha Karki (who has won the Galley Beggar Short Story Prize and Mslexia Short Story Competition) 

-       Kieron Connolly (a screenwriting graduate who has worked as an editor, journalist and author)  

-       Annie Power (a playwright whose work has been staged at venues such as The Soho Theatre, The Old Red Lion and Leicester Square Theatre and an award-winning screenwriter)


The theme of this year’s Dinesh Prize was ‘Home’, as inspired by the running theme of place throughout Dinesh’s back catalogue of work. The theme was well-timed to inspire submissions, as the competition opened just as the country went into its first lockdown and everyone found themselves spending a lot more time at home. 


Comma Press and UCLan set up the prize as an opportunity to showcase exciting new literary talent from across the UK, imposing no restrictions on entry such as a fee or a first-publication. They hope to further the careers of all the shortlisted authors, regardless of their experience in writing; the winner of the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2018, Lucas Stewart, is a contributing author to Comma Press’s latest History-into-Fiction anthology, Resist: Stories of Uprising, as well as another shortlistee from the same year, Kim Squirrell. 


The shortlist of eight stories was narrowed down from a record number of almost 600 entries by a talented group of UCLan students, and have now been passed on to the esteemed judging panel which includes Courttia Newland (author of A River Called Time), Abi Fellows (agent at The Good Literary Agency), Philip Braithwate (lecturer at UCLan) and Alfred Searls (Northern Soul). 


This team will choose their winner and two runners up from the shortlist of eight. The stories will remain anonymous to the judges until the winner announcement and prize giving ceremony which will take place as an online event organised by Comma Press and Northern Short Story Festival to be held in June 2021. Tickets to this event will be free and will feature author readings from the shortlist. After the ceremony, the eight shortlisted stories will all be published online as an eBook by Comma Press, and the winner will receive £500 from UCLan, as well as having their winning story published in Northern Soul, media partner for the Dinesh Prize. 


Shortlistee Kate Carne says: “I'm surprised and delighted to be shortlisted for this award. I am a huge fan of Comma Press, it is one of very few publishers that focuses on short stories. It feels great to be on board.”


Shortlistee Jeremy Hinchliff says: “Getting on the short list for the Dinesh Allirajah prize is a real boost in a difficult year. I read the café-themed anthology a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. The standard was high. The stories just fit nicely together. So I’m chuffed my story has got this far. Mid-length shorts are very difficult to find a home for these days and every time you get any kind of success it’s a cause for celebration.”


Judge Alfred Searls says: The Dinesh Allirajah prize is fast becoming one of the UK’s most interesting and sought-after short fiction prizes. It’s both a pleasure and a privilege for me to be asked to be a judge in this year’s competition, and I’m very excited to receive the shortlisted entries.”


Judge Abi Fellows says: Having always enjoyed and admired the short story form I was really excited and honoured to be invited to judge this year’s competition. I’m looking forward to reading the entries.


The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction will run again in 2022, with more details to be announced in due course.