Indian writer Shachi Kaul captured the top prize in the 2010 Commonwealth Short Story Competition. Kaul’s book ‘Retirement’ has been lauded as a “clever and surprising take on a father’s retirement.” Her story is an examination of traditional roles coming to an end and the contrast of outcomes when it is welcomed, and when it is not. Her stories are rooted in contemporary India but are praised for their universal appeal. A banker and former hotelier, Kaul writes both prose and poetry and her work is beginning to appear in anthologies in Asia. She is currently working on her first novel.
“It means many things to win this competition. It is an acknowledgement of my writing, a boost to my future aspirations, and a kind of check to show that I’m headed in the right direction,” said Kaul. (Read her winning story).
Among the winning regional entries was ‘Something from Nothing’ by Barbara Jenkins from Trinidad, a teacher and writer of textbooks who is well known in the island’s literary community. She recently enrolled as an MFA student at University of the West Indies, Trinidad. (Read her story)
The other regional winning entries are:
‘From Dark’ by Karen Jennings from South Africa
‘Swallow Dive’ by Melissa Madore from Canada
‘Praise Be’ by Jena Woodhouse from Australia
Their stories addressed such topics as illegal mining and gambling as well as personal themes of marriage, death and loneliness.
Funded and managed by the Commonwealth Foundation, in association with the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, the Commonwealth Short Story Competition is an annual scheme to promote new creative writing. Established in 1996, the competition aims to increase understanding and appreciation of Commonwealth cultures and encourage rising literary talents.
For the first time in the competition’s 14 year history, there was a special award for a story on this year’s Commonwealth theme of ‘Science, Technology and Society’, also won by an Indian writer, Anuradha Kumar, with a ‘low tech’ story about the first telephone to be installed in a rural Indian village. There was also an award for the best story for children, won by Iona Massey from Australia with her story about different ways to make meatballs, while past winner Anietie Isong from Nigeria gave a special prize for the best Nigerian story, won by Shola Olowu-Asante. There are 20 further highly commended entries.
There were over 2000 entries into this year’s competition. The 2010 panel of judges comprised New Zealand writer and reviewer Jolisa Gracewood; Nicholas Laughlin, Editor of The Caribbean Review of Books, and a former judge of the Commonwealth Foundation’s Commonwealth Writers’ Prize; Nigerian author and 2009 Commonwealth Short Story regional winner, Kachi Ozumba; Canadian author and Commonwealth Writers’ Prize winner Shandi Mitchell; and Indian broadcaster Usha Purie.
All 25 stories are available on a CD. For preview copies of the CD, or individual audio files, or for contact details of any of the winning authors, as well as general information about the competition, contact Emma D’Costa at the Commonwealth Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 (0) 20 7747 6328.
You can read all the stories by the first-prize and regional winners on the Commonwealth Foundation website.