2019 Shortlist

2019 Shortlist of Writers in the Final of the Rooted Everyday Mediterranean Short Story Prize, the first environment-themed writing prize in the Med. Discover which writers are on the shortlist and read their stories in a free eBook.

Sophia Sifaki – The Treasure

Winner of the 2019 Mediterranean Short Story Competition

A young doctor arrives on the small Greek island of Lemnos ready to minister to the colourful population and charged by her benefactor to discover the hidden treasure of the island.

Greek Judge Maria Rousakis said: “This convincing narrative created a good feel for the island of Lemons, its environment and cultural uniqueness and one could picture the characters in real life.

Sophia Sifaki has worked in linguistics and innovative translation technology for almost three decades. After becoming aware of the threat to the centennial forest of Dionysos she joined the ‘Yades’ movement and participated in local elections.

Sifaki has previously been published in a collect of women’s short stories called Time For Coffee (Lychnos 2007) and Yades (2018). Her poem Belladonna was awarded the 1st place in the 13th Panhellenic Poetry Competition organized by Ideopnoon.

Sifaki said: ‘The competition gave me an opportunity to express my passion for the environment and the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean. I enjoyed the process of writing, I learned a lot about the island of Lemnos, a place of unique and authentic beauty that is, like most places in the Mediterranean, confronted with human intervention. The Rooted Everyday campaign is extremely important and I hope that the stories will give the readers a chance to approach the miracle of the Mediterranean but to also understand the challenges facing this ancient basin that defines three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa. The Mediterranean is the sea of olive and pine trees, vineyards and dates, biodiversity and habitats as well as trade, tourism, profit but also exploitation. The demand for the Mediterranean’s viability is compelling. The crisis of salinity, fauna, flora and habitats has a direct bearing on our cultural crisis, our environmental values and our determination to fight for them. Time is limited and neither ignorance nor indifference is justified.’

Jose Ruiz Rosa – Plant Wisdom

Told from the perspective of a thousand-year-old tree witnessing man’s destruction and its plea for science, love and wisdom to save them.

Jose Ruiz Rosa is an agricultural technical engineer. His childhood in Valencia forged his love for animals and plants amongst traditional agrarian ecosystems and small village farms. The lost places of his childhood due to city expansion continue to influence his life and work as demonstrated in his book The Golden Medium.

Rosa said: “I have tried to put myself in the “bark” of an ancient oak to be able to narrate the genesis of a garden-ecosystem as wonderful as that of the Dehesas.

Maria Dalamitrou – Gone

Contemporary characters experiences of pain, absence and loss are woven together
against the power of Greek mythology and the Mediterranean sea.

Greek Judge Maria Rousakis said: “A symbolic and lyrical piece of writing with sweet melancholic tones and emotional characterisation.”

Dr Maria Dalamitrou recent works include Fantasy Collection (Anatypo 2018) and poetry collections The Season Before the Last One (AΩ 2010) and Quarter To Men (ΑΩ, 2012). She lives in Patras and works for secondary state schools and is coordinator of a european programme studying the Holocaust and the prevalence of violence and fascism in Europe in adult education.

Dalamitrou said: “What all people have in common is the experience of a pain or a loss; I wish my story to formulate a sympathetic community which is ancient Greek by origin and simultaneously contemporary.

Abdelhakim Barnous – The Shepherd

A classic pastoral tale with a twist.

Moroccan Judge Brahim Elboukhari said: “A symbolic short story that takes the concept of the Arabic shepherd and applies it to modern society.

Abdelhakim Barnous is a Research student in Master of Literary Criticism and Mechanisms at Sultan Moulay Suleiman University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Beni Mellal, Morocco. He won an Arab magazine short story competition in October 2014 and his short story came first in the Okaz Moroccan competition. His articles have been published in Moroccan and Arab newspapers.

Barnous said: “It makes me very proud my story was selected and I hope that this is a major step to achieve my wish to become a great writer.

Ana Catarina Milhazes – Rulfo

A dog tells the story of its owner, a teenage girl engaged with the climate crisis struggle in Lisbon.

Portuguese Judge Isabel Minhós Martins said: “A simple and well written poetic text with an original approach to the subject.

Ana Catarina Milhazes was born in Póvoa de Varzim in 1990. She has a degree in Languages and Cultures and currently works in the field of development education. For the past two years, she has lived and worked in Morocco and Guinea-Bissau, and now she misses home and her country.

Milhazes said: “Every once in a while, it feels good to remember that we are all here for the same (or should and could be). And the same, in the end, is little more than, as I say in my story, some shade and grass to doze off. I trust the landscape builds a lot of what we are. The landscape unites because it reminds us that the roots are the same or that at some point they intersected.

Popi Aroniada – White Ground

A discovery on a new piece of land present an impossible choice for disappointed lover Anestis.

Greek Judge Maria Rousakis said: “An inventive story with a good narrator and sense of time and place.

Popi Aroniada lives in Athens and is a member of the Administration Board of the Poets Circle in Greece. Her most recent works include a novel The Twins (To Rodakio 2018) and her poetic collection Ουλές/Scars (To Rodakio 2016) was translated into English by Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke and was in the Top Ten books voted for by readers to receive a prize. She received 2nd Prize in the 2014 XXX World Poetry Contest Premio Nosside in Reggio Calabria, Italy.

Aroniada said: “I’m honoured that my short story has been given the chance to reach readers, who speak and express themselves in other languages. Art has a special gift of communication, so that people who have never met in person can still connect on an emotional level.

Maria de Fátima Candeias – The First Day

A classical narrative that brings us the story of Cacilda, now an old woman that lives in the Portuguese countryside surrounded by olive trees.

Portuguese Judge Isabel Minhós Martins said: “A subtle story about discovery with a daring use of language.

Maria de Fátima Candeias graduated in Romantic Philology at the Faculty of Letters and received her Master’s degree on the works of Mário Cláudio. Her short story Terra Naufragada (The Wrecked Earth) is part of an Invisible Country anthology edited by the Mario Cláudio Studies Center. She received the prize from the Manuel de Fonseca Foundation’s National Accounting Competition in October 2018, for A faithful gardener and Other Stories (October 2019).

Candeias said: “I wish I was the one to have written Fernando Pessoa’s last phrase: ‘I know not what tomorrow will bring.

Aziz Charhabil – Salted Grasshopper

A retelling of an old Moroccan tale.

Moroccan Judge Brahim Elboukhari said: ‘This old tale is retold with simplicity and
clarity.

Aziz Charhabil was born in 1969 in El Jadida a coastal town on the Atlantic Ocean in a family of seven girls and two boys. He studied English law and literature before switching to technical studies and became a computer technician but his is love for literature was always more powerful. He is a father to two boys Mohamed Najib aged eight and Zakaria aged four.

Charhabil said: “The fact that my story was selected for the shortlist in Morocco, gave me a fantastic feeling. I was very emotional when I found out, my tears flowed spontaneously.

Pablo Garrido – Antagonisms

A short piece fired by the threat of destruction and need for resolution between human and nature.

Pablo Garrido was born in Bilbao in 1979. Inspired by his father, from an early age he showed a deep interest in nature and conservation. This interest led to an endless curiosity which culminated with the completion of a PhD at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He has specialized in social-ecological systems and herbivore-forest interactions and rewilding. Most recently he has embarked in a more philosophical journey to understand how human mind conditioning has a direct effect on nature conservation.

Garrido said: “I wanted to highlight commonly neglected aspects of Mediterranean ecosystems and contribute to their conservation. Former rural and agrarian societies had a much greater knowledge on certain aspects of nature as their survival depended on it. Today, the most widespread urban societies are getting increasingly alienated from nature with pervasive effects for conservation. My writing was a plea for human-nature reconcilement.

Amar Hommany – The Magic Bag

The contents of a bag contain a powerful message.

Moroccan Judge Brahim Elboukhari said: “An amazing original story about a symbolic sack used as an alternative to the magic box concept.

Amar Hommany was born in Morocco near the Imperial city of Fez. He was interested in novels and writing from an early age. He has a DUT in International Business and is a teacher and tutor in French and Arabic, and also works as a translator and proof reader. He has won several writing prizes, and is a writer of novel and short stories.

Hommany said: “I am very grateful to the organizers. As for my future wishes for my writings, I hope to be one of the world’s great writers and win international awards as well.

Blanca Amelia Marques – The Meadow

Shaded under a tree Rogelio reflects on the life in the Dehesas.

Blanca Amelia Marques is a humble pastor of words, who tries describe the world as her eyes see and her ears hear. She lives with her daughter in Toledo, was born in Madrid and is a Mediterranean and Iberian at heart.

Marquez said: “I am amazed and proud of the choice of my humble story. I hope this little story will open eyes and soften hearts. For my green land. For my oaks and cork oaks. And for the people who quietly keep it.