Shortlist announced for the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2019

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

The shortlist includes a regionally diverse selection of writers, based across London, Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester. The writers selected are also of varying degrees of writing experience and commendations.

The shortlisted writers are:

Carol McKay

Johanna Robinson

Judy Birkbeck

Matt Thomas

Joseph Darlington

Duncan Abel

Luke Hilton

The theme of this year’s Dinesh Prize was ‘Scent’, which is the title of Dinesh's posthumous collected works and has been honoured by the shortlistees’ stories with a range of interpretations. 

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; already, the winner of the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2018 has been confirmed as a contributing author to Comma Press’s forthcoming anthology, Resist: Stories of Uprising.

The shortlist of 10 stories was narrowed down from almost 200entries by a talented group of UCLan students, and have now been passed on to the esteemed judging panel which includes Robin Purves (Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at UCLan), Zoe Gilbert (award-winning short story writer and author of Folk (Bloomsbury, 2018)), Irenosen Okojie (short story writer, curator and Arts Project Manager) and Andy Murray (writer and Film Editor of Northern Soul). 

This team will choose their winner and two runners up from the shortlist of ten. The stories will remain anonymous to the judges until the winner announcement and prize giving ceremony on the 8th May.  After the ceremony, the ten shortlisted stories will all be published online as an eBook by Comma Press, and the final winning story will be published in Northern Soul

Shortlistee Johanna Robinson says of her experience: 'I'm so thrilled to have been shortlisted for the Dinesh Allirajah Prize, not least because it was on a brilliant and inspiring Comma Press course in Liverpool in 2016 that I started writing short stories. The fact that the prize is free to enter, and has no restrictions in terms of prior publication, means it opens up opportunity for all emerging writers, regardless of background or circumstances.' 

Shortlistee Luke Hilton says:I'm overjoyed to have been shortlisted; it's a real honor to have my story commended in such a way. The fact that entry to the prize was free makes it a level playing field too, it allows those of us who can't afford to pay entrance fees to other competitions a chance to get some feedback on our work and help develop our careers… Having it open to anybody means that the prize will attract stories from much more diverse backgrounds and they'll be more interesting for it.’

Comma Press and UCLan can also happily announce that the prize will return for 2019-20, with a new panel of judges and a new theme. The winner will once again receive a prize of £500. More information about next year’s prize will be announced in due course.