The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction

Comma Press and the University of Central Lancashire are proud to host the annual Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction.

Dinesh Allirajah (1967-2014) once said of himself (referencing a Sonny Criss sleeve note): ‘I am a jazz writer, which is a full-time creative job’. Dinesh had many other occupations, too – lecturing in creative writing at Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Central Lancashire and Edge Hill, running workshops and literacy classes in community centres, schools and prisons, acting as Chair of the National Black Arts Alliance and the National Association for Literature Development, as well as being a long-term director of Comma Press. He was also a DJ, playwright, radio presenter, cricket enthusiast and blogger. Dinesh regularly performed to audiences across the UK, as well as in France, Poland, Germany, Bangladesh and Nigeria. His short stories were featured in numerous anthologies and magazines, and first collected in A Manner of Speaking (Spike Books, 2004). Scent is the first comprehensive collection of his work, published by Comma Press following his sudden passing in December 2014.

Dinesh was a Founding Board Member of Comma (2007-2012), and a Director of Comma Press since it became a National Portfolio Organisation of the Arts Council in 2012. He also lectured in Creative Writing at UCLan for 8 years and was much-loved by everyone he worked with. Amongst these many other things, first and foremost, he was a writer, and he loved to write short fiction, which he posted regularly on his blog (Real Time Short Stories). His sudden passing in 2014 was a shock to all who knew him, and now Comma in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire, have set up this prize, in his name, as part of a lasting legacy of his love of writing short fiction.

The prize is open to anyone 18 years or over who is a resident of the UK, and the story you submit must not have been previously published anywhere else, online or in print. It is free to submit your entry, but only one per writer please. All entries will be made anonymous upon receipt. Entries will be made anonymous upon receipt and will remain so until after the shortlist has been decided.

The winning writer will receive £500 and all 10 shortlisted authors will be featured in an ebook anthology which will be published by Comma Press and sold online. The winner will also have their story published online by our media partner Northern Soul

You must submit your story electronicallyAll entries must include a covering letter/email which states the author’s name, address, email, contact number, and story title. Any entries sent without this information will not be considered. Please send your story entry and the required details electronically to in the form of a Word Doc.

The 2018 prize-winning story was 'Bakhur' by Lucas Stewart. More info here about the 2018 prize. You can buy the 2018 prize anthology featuring all ten shortlisted stories from Amazon Kindle for only 99p.

The 2019 prize-winning story was 'Truffle' by Matt Thomas. Read it on Northern Soul. You can buy the 2019 prize anthology featuring all seven shortlisted stories exclusively on Amazon Kindle for only 99p.

The 2020 prize-winning story was 'Protect and Serve' by JE Rowney. Read it on Northern Soul. You can buy the 2020 prize anthology featuring all six shortlisted stories exclusively on Amazon Kindle for only 99p.

The 2021 prize-winning story was 'And After the Fire, Ash' by Isha Karki. Read it on Northern Soul. You can buy the 2021 prize anthology featuring all eight shortlisted stories exclusively on Amazon Kindle for only 99p. 

We are currently open for submissions for the 2022 Prize, on the theme of 'Crime' Stories. This year's judging panel includes author Karline Smith, Northodox Press editor Tom Ashton, UCLan's Helen Fiona Day and Northern Soul's Kevin Bourke. 

Read Dinesh's musings about crime stories in long-running TV series on his blog here

Full terms and conditions:

1.      The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction is organised by the University of Central Lancashire ("UCLan") and Comma Press.

2.      The Competition is open to anyone aged 18 or over and based in the UK who is not excluded by these Rules. There is no upper age limit for entry.

3.      Members of University of Central Lancashire staff (who may also be students) and their spouses are excluded from being eligible to enter.

4.      The deadline for electronic entries is midnight (UK time) on Friday 29th October 2021. Entries received after this deadline will not be considered.

5.      Entrants must submit a short story of between 2,000 and 6,000 words in length. Titles, blank lines and page numbers are not included in the word count.

6.      Entrants may submit one story each.

7.      All work submitted for consideration must be on subject with the theme of 'Crime', and must be the entrant's own original writing.

8.      The story entered should not have appeared in print, online or have been broadcast prior to or be published after entry. Work which has been published on public websites, blogs or social media sites can be submitted, but must be taken down before the date of entry and must not be uploaded again until the writer has been notified whether they have been successful in making the shortlist. Shortlisted writers are asked not to publish their story anywhere as it will be included in the shortlist eBook. Work found to be published in print or to have been broadcast or to have appeared on a website outside of these terms will be disqualified.

9.      All work must be submitted electronically by email to, and must include a cover letter which states the author’s name, address, email, contact number and story title. Without a cover letter the story will not be eligible. Preferably entries should be typed or word-processed, clearly legible and written in English. Entrants should not include illustrations or artwork. Beyond these stipulations, presentation (e.g. font and spacing) is at the entrant’s discretion.

10.  Translations into English of work written in other languages can be accepted, provided that the source text is the entrant's own original work and has not been published (in line with the above); translations into English of work published (in line with the above) elsewhere in other languages will not be accepted.

11.  All entries will be assigned an ID number and made anonymous upon receipt. The readers will not be privy to the entrants’ names while deciding on the long list and the panel of judges will not be privy to entrants' names during the reading and judging process of the shortlist. Names will be reattributed to entries only after the winner and runners-up have been decided.

12.  If shortlisted, writers should please do their best to attend the special prizegiving event which will take place in May/June 2022 where the winner and highly commended entries will be announced and the eBook launched. 

13.  Electronic entries will only be valid if accompanied by a cover letter containing all the necessary information (see 9).

14.  Entries submitted for consideration may be withdrawn from the Competition by entrants by notification in writing (by email) to be received by Comma Press.

15.  Amendments cannot be made to entries after they have been submitted; stories cannot be amended, corrected or substituted. No correspondence or discussion about amendments will be entered into. So please proof your work thoroughly!

16.  Comma Press and UCLan reserve the right to disqualify any entry if it has reasonable grounds to believe that the entrant has breached any of these Rules, or made a false declaration on the entry form.

17.  Neither Comma Press nor UCLan will accept any responsibility for any damage, loss, injury or disappointment suffered by any entrant entering the Competition.

18.  Comma Press and UCLan will act in accordance with current UK data protection legislation in relation to your personal data.

19.  The Competition and Rules will be governed by English Law and any dispute will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.

20.  Comma Press and UCLan reserve the right to amend these Rules where it is deemed necessary to do so or where circumstances are beyond their control. Any changes to the Rules will be posted on the competition web page on

21.  Submission of an entry will be deemed to imply unqualified acceptance of the Competition's Rules. In the event of any dispute regarding these Rules or any other matter relating to the Competition, the decision of Comma Press and UCLan shall be final and no correspondence or discussion shall be entered into.


Warwick Translates Summer School

Launched in 2007, our translation imprint publishes the best short fiction from around the world. We have translated collections and single stories from over fifteen languages, including Arabic, Icelandic, Bengali and Spanish, among others. Our international authors include Sema Kaygusuz, Pawel Huelle, Larissa Boehning, Atef Abu Saif, and Iraqi refugee Hassan Blasim, described by the Guardian as perhaps ‘the greatest writer of Arabic fiction alive'.

We're delighted to partner with the Warwick Translates Summer School on an annual literary translation competition. Summer school participants will be invited to submit a sample translation from Spanish/Cataln into English, with the best translator being commissioned to translate a single story for a forthcoming Comma anthology. The winner will benefit from editorial support and feedback from an in-house editor, and will see their work appear alongside established literary translators.

The 2016 winner, Emre Bennett, was featured in Iraq +100 (the first ever anthology of Science fiction from Iraq).

The 2018 winner, Perween Richards, was commissioned to translate a collection of Palestinian short stories, The Sea Cloak, from the Arabic.

The 2019 winner, Christopher Macdonald, was commissiond to translate a story from Chinese into English for our city anthology The Book of Shanghai. Two runners-up, Carson Ramsdell and Jack Hargreaves, were also commissioned to translate stories for the anthology. 

The 2021 winner, Jeanette Hodgman, will translate a short story from Spanish into English to appear in a forthcoming anthology of Columbian short stories, The Book of Bogotá.

This is a great opportunity for emerging translators to develop their craft, and to be guided through the publishing process by industry professionals. 

Find out more on their website about the 2020 Summer School this July, where you can also learn about their summer school programme for emerging translators. 

Our thanks to Directors Professor Amanda Hopkinson and Ros Schwartz.