Books  |  Jun 2, 2013

Eliza Robertson wins Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Eliza Robertson wins Commonwealth Short Story Prize


Eliza Robertson and Sharon Millar are the joint winners of the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, which was announced at the Hay Festival. 

The Commonwealth Short Story prizes are awarded for the best unpublished works of short fiction from five regions: Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean and the Pacific. Robertson's winning story, We Walked on Water, is about a boy who decides to compete in the Ironman competition in British Columbia after his twin sister dies attempting it.

On winning the award, Robertson said, 'I feel both grateful and not-quite-believing to be selected as one of the overall winners of this prize. Early on, when I mentioned to someone that I had submitted an entry, I immediately qualified it with: "But no one real ever wins those prizes." What I meant, I think, was: "No one real to me ever wins those prizes." Or, specifically: "I don’t win those prizes." But here we are. I am thrilled to be proven wrong, and thankful for the opportunity to share my work.'

Commenting on the unprecedented outcome, chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Razia Iqbal said, ”it is a measure of the quality we had to choose from in the shortlist, that we unanimously settled on two joint winners. It was impossible to decide between them, though each one is quite distinctly different from the other. Both fulfilled our criteria of excellence in style, originality and tone. The Whale House, by Sharon Millar, sets the scene immediately, and there are lush descriptions of landscapes as well as emotion. It is striking how even minor characters are drawn vividly in quick, tightly written strokes.  We Walked on Water, by Eliza Robertson, is an exhilarating story about the relationship between a brother and sister, both competitive swimmers. Writing with elegance about sport as well as the emotional bond between siblings is an impressive feat. The descriptive writing is nothing short of strikingly beautiful, in terms of emotions felt, the natural environment and the structure. Both these stories stay in the imagination and the heart, long after they have been read.”

All the shortlisted stories are published by Granta online. 






Eliza Robertson and Sharon Millar are the joint winners of the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, which was announced at the Hay Festival

The Commonwealth Short Story prizes are awarded for the best unpublished works of short fiction from five regions: Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean and the Pacific. Robertson's winning story, We Walked on Water, is about a boy who decides to compete in the Ironman in British Columbia after his twin sister dies attempting it. Robertson shares the prize with Sharon Millar, whose story The Whale House, set in Trinidad, won the Regional Prize for the Caribbean.

The chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Razia Iqbal, said, 'it is a measure of the quality we had to choose from in the shortlist that we unanimously settled on two joint winners. It was impossible to decide between them, though each one is quite distinctly different from the other. Both fulfilled our criteria of excellence in style, originality and tone . . . We Walked on Water, by Eliza Robertson, is an exhilarating story about the relationship between a brother and sister, both competitive swimmers. Writing with elegance about sport as well as the emotional bond between siblings is an impressive feat. The descriptive writing is nothing short of strikingly beautiful, in terms of emotions felt, the natural environment and the structure. Both these stories stay in the imagination and the heart, long after they have been read.'

On winning the award, Robertson said, 'I feel both grateful and not-quite-believing to be selected as one of the overall winners of this prize. Early on, when I mentioned to someone that I had submitted an entry, I immediately qualified it with: "But no one real ever wins those prizes." What I meant, I think, was: "No one real to me ever wins those prizes." Or, specifically: "I don’t win those prizes." But here we are. I am thrilled to be proven wrong, and thankful for the opportunity to share my work.'

All the shortlisted stories are available at Granta online.