This Malaysian Writer Just Made The Commonwealth Short Stories Prize Shortlist

Her short story, 'Weeds', was among 25 out of 6,423 entries from 50 Commonwealth countries chosen for the shortlist for this year's prize.

Cover image via Commonwealth Writers

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Malaysian writer, journalist, and filmmaker Ling Low's short story Weeds has made the shortlist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021

The Commonwealth Short Story prize  which is in its tenth year  is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth.

According to Commonwealth Writers' website, Weeds was written during the first Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia last year. It is about a wealthy retiree who passes his time indoors during the national lockdown by staring at the gardeners working outside. He becomes jealous of their ability to spend their time outside in the sun.

This is not the first time Low has received recognition for her talent in storytelling

According to her website, Low has written a number of short stories over the years and her work has appeared in numerous local short story anthologies such as KL Noir Blue, Little Basket 2016: New Malaysian Writing, and Bitter Root, Sweet Fruit.

Her short story Bird  which was published in the Bitter Root, Sweet Fruit anthology in 2017  was a finalist for the DK Dutt Memorial Prize and won the runner-up prize.

She also directed the short film The Ruby and music videos for artistes like The Impatient Sisters and OJ Law.

Notably, her work has also been featured on The Guardian, BBC Radio 4, Conde Nast Traveller, TimeOut KL, and Esquire Malaysia. She was also editor-in-chief for

"Announcements about the death of the short story may be legion, but the 2021 shortlist loudly asserts that the form is in fine fettle," said South African novelist Zoë Wicomb

The prize is judged by esteemed writers from Asia, the UK, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, reported Malay Mail.

Zoë Wicomb  who also chairs the contest  said that, "The judging panel was well exercised in deliberating on a range of stories from speculative fictions that address environmental and political crises to the hyper-real and the supernatural."

"Stories that include concerns with sexual identity, gender relations, animal rights, neo-colonialism, racial exploitation and, of course, the perennial themes of love and death," she continued.

The 25 writers nominated for the prize this year.

Image via @cwwriters (Twitter)

This is the third consecutive year that a Malaysian writer has been included in the shortlist for the prize

According to Malay Mail, Sharmini Aphrodite's short story Ouroboros, Ouroboros was one of 20 entries out of over 5,000 works from literature written across the Commonwealth to make the shortlist last year.

In 2019, two Malaysian writers made the shortlist for the contest with Saras Manickam's entry My Mother Pattu winning the Asian regional title award.

Regional winners  comprising of Asia, Africa, Canada, Europe, Caribbean, and the Pacific  will receive GBP2,500 (RM14,200). The overall winner will bring home GBP5,000 (RM28,400), reported The Star.

The regional prize winner will be announced on 12 May, and the winner for the top prize will be awarded on 30 June.

Low's nominated entry, Weeds, will be published in adda  the online magazine of Commonwealth Writers  alongside other short stories that made the cut for the prize.

In 2020, Hanna Alkaf's debut novel won the US-based Freeman Book Awards:

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