Comma Press and the University of Central Lancashire are proud to announce the first annual Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction.

Dinesh Allirajah (1967-2014) once said of himself (referencing a Sonny Criss sleeve note): ‘I am a jazz writer, which is a full-time creative job’. Dinesh had many other occupations, too – lecturing in creative writing at Liverpool John Moores University, the University of Central Lancashire and Edge Hill, running 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, as well as being a long-term director of Comma Press. He was also a DJ, playwright, radio presenter, cricket enthusiast and blogger. Dinesh regularly performed to audiences across the UK, as well as in France, Poland, Germany, Bangladesh and Nigeria. His short stories were featured in numerous anthologies and magazines, and first collected in A Manner of Speaking (Spike Books, 2004). Scent is the first comprehensive collection of his work, published by Comma Press following his sudden passing in December 2014.

Dinesh was a Founding Board Member of Comma (2007-2012), and a Director of Comma Press since it became a National Portfolio Organisation of the Arts Council in 2012. He also lectured in Creative Writing at UCLan for 8 years and was much-loved by everyone he worked with. Amongst these many other things, first and foremost, he was a writer, and he loved to write short fiction, which he posted regularly on his blog (Real Time Short Stories). His sudden passing in 2014 was a shock to all who knew him, and now Comma in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire, have set up this prize, in his name, as part of a lasting legacy of his love of writing short fiction.

The theme for this inaugural year will be ‘Café Stories’, in honour of Dinesh’s Café Shorts series which he posted on his blog. He believed cafes to be “fertile ground for the short story.” In his own words, he said “The reason a café setting works is because we understand what goes on there, without the gauze of a local or historical context.” We would like to see how writers handle this narrative space, and how the writer projects his or her fiction onto it, and so we ask that all submissions are written with this theme in mind.

The prize is open to anyone 18 years or over, and the story you submit must not have been published anywhere else, online or in print. It is free to submit your entry, but only one per writer please. All entries will be made anonymous upon receipt. Entries will be made anonymous upon receipt and will remain so until after the shortlist has been decided.

Entries open 10th May 2017 and close 31st October 2017.