Jharkhand author Kritika Pandey wins Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Kritika Pandey, 29, is the overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for her story, The Great Indian Tee and Snakes.

The author from Jharkhand won the Asia round earlier this month. The Commonwealth Foundation announced Kritika’s win in an online award ceremony which featured readings from Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, and actors Swara Bhasker, Elizabeth McGovern, Kerry Fox, and Leila Bertand.

Ghanaian author and Chair of the Judges Nii Ayikwei Parkes awarded her during a video call. She is the second Indian to win the overall prize after Parashar Kulkarni in 2016. She is also the recipient of the Harvey Swados Fiction Prize, the Cara Parravani Memorial Award, and the Charles Wallace Scholarship for Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh.

According to Kritika, her story involves a young Hindu girl, “who chooses to love a Muslim young man even though she knows that she is not ‘supposed to’.”

On the award, she says, “I've experienced every possible emotion ever since I received the news. At times, I'm overwhelmed with joy, gratitude, and a sense of fulfillment or reeling with disbelief. At other times, I’m devastated by the fate of my fictional characters who seem all too real to me, a feeling compounded by the tragedies presently unfolding around us.”

“However, more than anything else, this prize strengthens my will to write. It tells me that all those days when I lock myself in my room to stare into a computer screen, unsettled and unsure, might just be a worthwhile way of engaging with the world,” she adds.

Nii Ayikwei Parkes commended Kritika for “infusing the tale with empathy and balance.” “The Great India Tee and Snakes is a gut-punch of a story, remarkable because, in spite of its fraught subject matter, it never neglects the beauty of the world in which the story unfolds.”

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is administered by the Commonwealth Foundation, through its cultural initiative Commonwealth Writers. The prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction. Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 1:46:13 PM |

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