We’re delighted to announce that Northern Soul is the Media Partner for the fifth annual Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction. This is our fourth year as partner for the prestigious prize, run by Comma Press and the University of Central Lancashire. 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.

About the prize

The Dinesh Allirajah Prize is an annual award for short fiction. It was set up by Comma Press in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire following the death in 2014 of Comma’s much-loved director and founding board member, writer Dinesh Allirajah. Now in its fifth year, submissions will be open from July 7, 2021 for the 2022 prize.

In honour of Dinesh Allirajah, this prize is open to both published and unpublished writers and aims to seek out the best established and up and coming voices in the form.

The theme for the 2021 prize is ‘Crime Stories’. Crime was just one of many themes/genres tackled by Dinesh in his work, and something he reflected on through his blog, Real Time Short Stories. Comma Press also has experience publishing crime fiction, having produced two CWA anthologies during Dinesh’s tenure.

Comma PressThis year the prize also welcomes an entirely new panel of judges, including successful crime writer Karline Smith; editor at Northodox Press, specialising in crime fiction, Tom Ashton; senior lecturer at UCLan, Helen Day, and writer for Northern Soul, Kevin Bourke.

Bourke says: “If the short story is the perfect literary form, and the crime story is the most all-embracing of any literary genre, then what could be more exciting than the combination of the two in this year’s Dinesh Prize? I can’t wait to be thrilled by this year’s submissions.”

UCLan students will also once again participate in the judging process, devising the shortlist from which the winner will be selected by the judges.

How to submit

To ensure parity, entries will be anonymous throughout the entire judging process. The winning writer will receive £500 and will have their story published online by Northern Soul. All shortlisted authors will be featured in an eBook anthology which will be published by Comma Press and sold online.

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 October 29, 2021.

For all details on how to submit to the Dinesh Prize 2022, click here.

Isha KarkiHere’s what the 2021 winner had to say about the prize:

It’s a joy to be recognised by a prize that honours another writer’s legacy and to have my work read with such generosity. Particularly this story, which plays with form and narrative voice – the win feels like a recognition of that which is wonderful and bolstering. I hope it encourages other writers to put their work forward, and to experiment, without hesitation.” – Isha Karki, Winner, 2021

 Previous shortlisted writers said: 

“Having my story shortlisted for the Dinesh Prize is an honour and I thank all concerned for the opportunity. Aldous Huxley said that after decades of study and research, he was embarrassed that the best philosophy he could come up with was to promote kindness. It was with this in mind that I wrote this story, so I hope it warms a few hearts along the way.” – Shortlistee AJ Reid, 2020 

“I’m a big fan of Comma Press, both the books it publishes and the brilliant work it does developing, promoting and showcasing the short story, and so am proper delighted to be included on this year’s shortlist for the Dinesh Prize. This shortlisting feels like real positive reinforcement that my therapeutic writing is resulting in good stories as well as good mental health.” – Shortlistee Jan Kaneen, 2020 

The 2021 judges said: 

“A gorgeously sumptuous tale of feminine ritual, cross cultural histories and symbolism, After the Fire, Ash packs novel heft into slim short story pages. Brave and astounding, Isha’s story burns bright.”Courttia Newland, Judge, 2021

“The standard of the entries included in the shortlist was very high indeed and it’s easy to see why the prize is fast becoming one of the UK’s most interesting and sought-after short fiction prizes.”Alfred Searls, Judge, 2021

Comma Press logoPrevious judges said:

“Having closely followed the progress of the prize during its first two years and witnessed the calibre of writing that has emerged, I’m extremely excited to be part of this year’s judging panel. It’s an absolute pleasure to be associated with the prize – particularly owing to Dinesh Allirajah’s legacy as both a writer and a champion of short fiction – and I look forward to seeing the writer’s interpretations of ‘artificial intelligence’ and how they each respond to the subject matter.” – Emma Yates-Badley, Judge, 2020

“It’s always exciting when a competition reaches the sharp end and I’m really looking forward to reading the six shortlisted stories. I’m expecting the standard to be high, and picking a winner is sure to be a tough task for me and my fellow judges.” – Martyn Bedford, Judge, 2020 

Read the previous winning stories on Northern Soul:

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 here. You can buy the 2019 prize anthology featuring all seven shortlisted stories from Amazon Kindle for only 99p.

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

The 2021 prize-winning story was And After the Fire, Ash by Isha Karki. Read it here. You can buy the 2020 prize anthology featuring all six shortlisted stories from Amazon Kindle for only 99p.