A summons for jury service forces a student to reassess her father’s nurturing skills and the values of the British society in which they live, while a friendship between two schoolgirls reveals the murky depths of Nigeria’s political history. Jenna Mahale’s Packed Lunch and Arenike Adebajo’s The Hyacinth Girls are among six stories in contention for the 2019 Guardian 4th Estate short story prize, now in its fourth year. The all-female shortlist was selected from nearly 200 entries. Both Mahale and Adebajo hold a fine balance between the personal and the political, as does Jameen Kaur in Once We Were Warriors, which explores the pride and the pain of a Sikh family struggling to deal with a drug-addicted son. The stories’ subjects span ages and genders. In 50 Rose Tower, Oluchi Ezeh captures the dangerous boredom of the long summer holidays in a touchingly comic story of a gaggle of prepubescent boys on a London council estate, while Sonia Hope takes an elegant period ride with a record-collecting Jamaican bus driver in The Cat by The Incredible Jimmy Smith. One of only two contenders to be set outside the UK, Kandace Siobhan Walker’s Deep Heart spins a magical yarn around young sisters on an island where nothing is as it seems. Sponsored by the Guardian and publisher 4th Estate, the BAME prize is open to black, Asian and minority ethnic writers, who have been historically neglected by UK publishers. The winner will be announced on 10 September.

Story and Image Credit: The Guardian