Two Cypriot authors Constantia Soteriou and Erato Ioannou have been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, the Commonwealth Writers announced on Wednesday.
The critics chose 21 stories from over 5,000 entries submitted from the 50 Commonwealth countries.
Soteriou’s story Death Customs is about the women of Cyprus, mothers or wives left to believe that their beloved individuals were missing after the 1974 war, while the state had clear evidence about their death.
The story looks into the themes of death customs in Cypriot culture, memories, bitterness and justice.
Soteriou won an Athens Prize for Literature for her first booked published in 2015 called, Aishe Goes on Vacation. It is a story that deals with the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the direct aftermath for the people of the island.
Ioannou’s story Deserted starts when war strikes and 80-year-old Anna stays in her deserted town to defend her home. She soon becomes possessed by superhuman youth, giving a new meaning to being alive.
Ioannou’s writing has been published in anthologies and journals in Cyprus, Greece, Romania and the UK and she is the author of Cats Have it All, a collection of short stories. Most recently, her work has been featured in the So Many Islands Anthology.
The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000–5,000 words) in English. Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000. Translated entries are also eligible, as are stories written in the original Bengali, Chinese, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil and Turkish.
The judging panel in 2019 was chaired by playwright and essayist Caryl Phillips.