India's Kritika Pandey was on Tuesday awarded the 5,000 pound Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2020 for "The Great Indian Tee and Snakes" in a virtual ceremony here. The Asian Regional Winner beat challengers from four other contenders in the final round.
"This is an incredible moment; I don't know what to say. The award is so reassuring. It really makes up for the struggle I went through (to become a writer)," the 29-year-old from Jharkhand, who is currently a final year candidate in the Masters in Fine Arts (MFS) programme at the University of Massachusetts, said after the jury chair, Ghanaian writer Nii Ayikwei Parkes, named her as the winner.
He described Pandey's work as a "gut-punch of a story, all the more shocking in its charged conclusion given that most of it is set at a tea seller's and its energy derives from a few looks between a boy and a girl".
Pandey said her parents, whom she described as "very conservative", wanted her to become an engineer "so I became an engineer" (from BIT Mesra). They then wanted her to get married and have children, "but I said no; I wanted to become a writer".
This year's competition received 5,000 entries from 49 countries. These were whittled down to a shortlist of 20 from five regions, with the other four regional winners being "When a Woman Renounces Motherhood" by Innocent ChizaramIlo (Africa/Nigeria); "Wherever Mister Jensen Went" by Reyah Martin (Canada and Europe /United Kingdom); "Mafootoo" by Brian S. Heap (Caribbean/Jamaica) and "The Art of Waving" by Andrea E. Macleod (Pacific/Australia).
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