CBC Literary Prizes

Utopia by Vincent Anioke

Vincent Anioke has made the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for Utopia.

2021 CBC Short Story Prize longlist

Vincent Anioke is a writer who was born and raised in Nigeria, but now lives in Ontario. (Submitted by Vincent Anioke)

Vincent Anioke has made the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for Utopia.

The winner of the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and have the opportunity to attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

The shortlist will be announced on April 22 and the winner will be announced on April 29.

About Vincent Anioke

Vincent Anioke is a software engineer at Google. He was born and raised in Nigeria, but now lives in Ontario. His short stories have appeared in literary journals such as Carve Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Bending Genres and Callaloo. He was also shortlisted for the 2020 Thomas Morton Prize for Literary Excellence.

Entry in five-ish words

"Culture shock, love, seeking belonging."

The story's source of inspiration

"I grew up in Nigeria, and moved countries twice: to USA for university, and then to Canada for work. One evening, I found myself mulling over what it meant to uproot myself from familiar places, the parts of selves I left behind. As immigrants, we are constantly rewriting facets of our identities; some pull us back to the spaces of our past that we may never fully recover, even if we spend all our time trying; other facets push us toward assimilating into our new world, to carving a home. The father and daughter in my story materialized that evening as blurry images representing these two sides. Over the course of weeks, I then worked on fleshing them into the concrete characters that defined my story."

First lines

On the last Saturday of October, Papa's guests gathered in the living room, misaligned couches sagging under their weight. They wore gold-threaded dashikis, even Papa, and washed their hands in a calabash of cold water.

One ocean and 30 years later, they were comrades, bound by an unspoken necessity, conducting themselves as if their unity was inevitable, their friendship lifelong.

"Thank you, nwa mu," said Chijioke with a brown-toothed smile. He and Papa had attended the same boarding secondary school in Lagos, strangers then. One ocean and 30 years later, they were comrades, bound by an unspoken necessity, conducting themselves as if their unity was inevitable, their friendship lifelong.

About the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize

The winner of the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

The 2021 CBC Poetry Prize is open for submissions until May 31, 2021. The 2022 CBC Short Story Prize will open in September and the 2022 CBC Nonfiction Prize will open in January 2022.

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