Kritika Pandey has won the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The 29-year-old received the coveted honour for her short story, The Great Indian Tee and Snakes, which centres around an unlikely friendship struck at the background of a tea stall. Following the win, in a statement from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she expressed hope that “more people trust their daughters and their dreams. She was also declared one of five Regional Winners for the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for her work, last week.
“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. It reminds me that I must, therefore, continue to inquire into the human condition, to make sense of existence, to listen carefully, to resist, and to hope,” the Pushcart-nominated author said.
The author had also revealed that the reason for submitting her story for Commonwealth stemmed from the way the prize values the unique position of a post-colonial writer. “I think telling stories is important because so much about our existence cannot be accounted for by any of the accepted epistemological categories out there. We try to make sense of our realities with facts and figures and dates and theories, so why not undertake a serious examination of our emotions as well. Writing stories allows me to study our nostalgias, sorrows, joys, infatuations and our infinite ways of being intelligent, without being intellectual,” a report in PTI quotes her saying this in a video.
Every year, The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best unpublished short fiction. It should range from 2,000-5000 words in English. Any Commonwealth citizens aged 18 years and above is eligible for it. This year, the prize received over 5000 entries from 49 countries. The judging panel is well represented, with each representing five regions of the Commonwealth.
(With inputs from PTI)
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines