Literary competition honours former lecturer

5 June 2018

The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction is now in its second year

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and independent publisher Comma Press are once again collaborating to deliver the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction.

Now in its second year, submissions are now open for the 2019 edition of the Prize. Open to both published and un-published writers, this prize aims to seek out the best established and up and coming voices in the form, in honour of Dinesh who passed away suddenly in 2015.

Dinesh, who described himself as a jazz writer, lectured in creative writing at the University for eight years and was a long-term director of Comma Press.

His short stories were featured in numerous anthologies and magazines, and he regularly ran 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. He was also a DJ, playwright, radio presenter, cricket enthusiast, performer and blogger.

"It’s a pleasure to once again collaborate with UCLan and their talented students to ensure as many writers as possible, regardless of experience or background, send us their stories and are judged equally."

The theme for the 2019 Prize will be ‘Scent’, the title of his posthumous collected works. ‘Scent’ can serve as a central theme or as a writing prompt for short stories across any genre.

Dr Naomi Kruger, UCLan Lecturer in Creative Writing, will once again sit on the judging panel, along with a new host of judges including Zoe Gilbert, award-winning short story writer and author of Folk (Bloomsbury, 2018). They will be joined by short story writer Irenosen Okojie, a curator and Arts Project Manager; and Andy Murray, Northern Soul’s Film Editor and who has previously edited a short story anthology for Comma Press.

UCLan students will also once again participate in the judging process, devising the shortlist from which the winner will be selected by the judges, and organizing the prize-giving event.

Dr Kruger said: “We are delighted to be working with Comma Press to continue the Dinesh Prize after a very successful inaugural year.”

Dinesh Allirajah
Dinesh Allirajah

"Not only is it a way for us to honour the memory of Dinesh as both writer and teacher, it also enables our students to gain valuable experience working in the creative industries."

Becca Parkinson, coordinating the prize at Comma Press, said: “We’re so pleased with the success of the inaugural year in 2017.The submitted stories were a testament to the malleability and dexterity of the short story form; I very much look forward to seeing the writers interpret this year’s theme. It’s our aim to unveil some brilliant new voices in short fiction.’

Zoe Gilbert commented: “As a huge fan of the short form in fiction, I'm delighted to have the chance to read new short stories and to highlight the fantastic work of emerging authors.”

This year will also see Northern Soul, the online magazine celebrating arts, enterprise and culture in the North of England, join the Prize as Media Partner.

Helen Nugent, Editor of Northern Soul, added: “Northern Soul is thrilled to be the media partner for Comma Press' Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction. Comma's commitment to the short story and its place in today's literary narrative is second to none, as is its work to blur cultural and social boundaries. We look forward to seeing this year's entries and to furthering the support Comma gives to established and emerging writers.”

To ensure parity, entries will be anonymous throughout the entire judging process. The prize is open to anyone based in the UK aged 18 or over, providing the story submitted has not been published anywhere else, online or in print. Entry is free but limited to one per writer, and the closing date for applications is 26 October 2018. The winning writer will receive £500 and will have their story published online by Northern Soul. All 10 shortlisted authors will be featured in an eBook anthology which will be published by Comma Press and sold online. There will be a prize-giving ceremony which will take place in May 2019.

For full details on how to submit, visit the Comma Press website.