Indian writer, Shachi Kaul, has emerged winner of the 2010 Commonwealth Short Story Competition, with her entry, ‘Retirement’; while Nigerian entries, ‘Somewhere’ and ‘Dinner for Three’ by Jude Dibia and Shola Olowu-Asante respectively, were among 25 other winners in various categories.
Accoring to news, funded and managed by the Commonwealth Foundation, in association with the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, the competition is an annual scheme aimed at promoting new creative writing and increasing understanding and appreciation of Commonwealth cultures.
Set in contemporary India, ‘Retirement’ is an examination of traditional roles coming to an end, and the contrast of outcomes achieves the above. Kaul, who hopes to write stories rooted locally but possessing an international appeal, expressed her delight at winning the award.
“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,” she said.
According to the Foundation, winning entries were picked based on merit, originality, and voice from over 2000 entries from five world regions: Africa, Canada and Europe, The Caribbean, Asia, and The Pacific. The stories were adjudged by a panel comprised of New Zealand writer and reviewer, Jolisa Gracewood; Nicholas Laughlin, editor of The Caribbean Review of Books; 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.
For the first time since its inception in 1996, a prize was awarded for the best story that explored a science and technology theme, also won by an Indian writer, Anuradha Kumar, with ‘The First Hello’, a 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, while past winner, Anietie Isong, from Nigeria, gave a special prize for the best Nigerian story, won by Shola Olowu-Asante.
The 25 stories, including the overall winner, four regional winners, three special prize winners, and recommended regional stories are available in an audio collection, which will be broadcast widely on radio around the Commonwealth.