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The Commonwealth Book Prize

The Commonwealth Book Prize was set up in 1987 by the Commonwealth Foundation to find a wider readership Commonwealth Writersfor fiction by authors from the 54 Commonwealth nations (including the few who are not members of the Founadation).

The compeition was rebranded in 2012, changing from the Commonwealth Writers' Prize to its current name. The Best Book Prize was discontinued.

The Prize is divided into five regions: Africa, Europe and Canada, The Caribbean, Pacific and Asia. Each of the four Regional Winners receives £2500 with £10,000 then awarded to the overall Best Book winner chosen form these four.

The Prize shares an area of coverage with the Man Booker Prize (although the latter also considers writers from the Republic of Ireland) and many books have been in contention for both; J M Coetzee's Disgrace and Peter Carey's The True History of the Kelly Gang, however, are the only books to win both. Carey (one of only two double Booker winners) and Rohinton Mistry are the only authors to have won the Best Book prize twice.

Andrea Levy's Best Book Prize came after she had already won both the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Book of the Year, making Small Island perhaps the most garlanded novel by a British writer in recent years. She was also the first female winner of the main award since Janet Frame in 1989; the Best Book Prize has only been won by five women in total.

The 2013 overall winner was Lisa O'Donnell for The Death of Bees.

In August, it was announced that the Book Prize will no longer be awarded, the Commonwealth Writers Organisation choosing instead to focus on its annual short story prize.

 

2013 Winner

The Death of Bees
(Paperback)
Lisa O'Donnell
 
Marnie and her little sister Nelly have always been different. Marnie leads a life of smoking, drinking and drugs; Nelly enjoys playing the violin, eating cornflakes with Coke and reading Harry Potter. But on Christmas Eve, the sisters have to join forces and put their differences aside.
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Previous Winners

Overall Winners

2013: The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell

2012: Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka

 

Best Book

2011: The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

2010: Solo by Rana Dasgupta

2009: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

2008 The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

2007 Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

2006: The Secret River by Kate Grenville

2005: Small Island by Andrea Levy

2004: A Distant Shore by Caryl Phillips

2003: The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke

2002: Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan

2001: The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

2000: Disgrace by J M Coetzee

1999: Eucalyptus by Murray Bail

1998: Jack Maggs by Peter Carey

1997: Salt by Earl Lovelace

1996: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

1995: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

1994: A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

1993: The Ancestor Game by Alex Miller (Currently out of print)

1992: Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry

1991: The Great World by David Malouf

1990: Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler

1989: The Carpathians by Janet Frame (currently out of print)

1988: Heroes by Festus Iyayi (currently out of print)

1987: Summer Lightning by Olive Senior

 

Best First Book

2011: A Man Melting by Craig Cliff (no UK edition available)

2010: Siddon Rock by Glenda Guest (no UK edition available)

2009: A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif

2008: A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam

2007: Vandal Love by D Y Béchard (No UK Edition)

2006: Suspended Sentences by Mark McWatt

2005: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

2004: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

2003: Haweswater by Sarah Hall

2002: Ama: A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade by Manu Herbstein

2001: White Teethby Zadie Smith

2000: Prisoner in a Red-Rose Chain by Jeffrey Moore (currently out of print)

1999: The Electrical Field by Kerri Sakamoto (currently out of print)

1998: Angel Falls by Tim Wynveen (currently out of print)

1997: Fall on Your Knees by Anne-Marie MacDonald

1996: Red Earth and Pouring Rain by Vikram Chandra

1995: Seasonal Adjustments by Adib Khan (currently out of print)

1994: The Case of Emily V by Keith Oatley (Currently out of print)

1993: The Thousand Faces of Night by Gita Hariharan

1992: Divina Trace by Robert Antoni (currently out of print)

1991: Shape-Shifter by Pauline Melville (currently out of print)

1990: Visitors by John Cranna (currently out of print)

1989: Women of Influence by Bonnie Burnard (currently out of print)

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