September 13, 2010

India triumphs in Commonwealth Short Story Competition - Shachi Kaul wins 2010 Prize

India triumphs in Commonwealth Short Story Competition - Shachi Kaul wins 2010 Prize

‘Retirement’, a clever and surprising take on a father’s retirement, has been announced as the winning entry in the 2010 Commonwealth Short Story Competition. Indian writer Shachi Kaul aims to tell stories rooted in contemporary India but with universal appeal. 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.

“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.”

Shachi Kaul, prize winner

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 to 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 (see below for a full list of winners).

The regional winning entries were:

‘From Dark’ by Karen Jennings from South Africa
‘Swallow Dive’ by Melissa Madore from Canada
‘Something from Nothing’ by Barbara Jenkins from Trinidad and Tobago
‘Praise Be’ by Jena Woodhouse from Australia

These stories addressed such topics as illegal mining and gambling as well as personal themes of marriage, death and loneliness.

There were over 2000 entries into this year’s competition and the international judging panel made their choices based on merit, originality and voice. The 2010 panel 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 (contact the Commonwealth Foundation, below) which will be broadcast widely around the Commonwealth. The stories are read by some of the finest readers for radio working in the United Kingdom such as the distinguished actor Eleanor Bron, the accomplished actor and writer Sudha Bhuchar (reading Shachi Kaul’s story), and Khalid Abdalla, who appeared in the films The Kite Runner and United 93.

Full list of winners – 2010 Commonwealth Short Story Competition

Overall Winner

Shachi Kaul, India - Retirement

Regional Winner Africa
Karen Jennings, South Africa - From Dark

Regional Winner Canada and Europe
Melissa Madore, Canada - Swallow Dive

Regional Winner Caribbean
Barbara Jenkins, Trinidad and Tobago - Something from Nothing

Regional Winner The Pacific
Jena Woodhouse, Australia - Praise Be

Special Prize - Science, Technology and Society
Anuradha Kumar, India - The First Hello

Special Prize - Story for Children
Iona Massey, Australia - Grandma Makes Meatballs

Anietie Isong Special Prize for a Story from Nigeria
Shola Olowu-Asante, Nigeria - Dinner For Three

Africa Highly Commended
Sylvia Schlettwein, Namibia - Framing the Nation
Jude Dibia, Nigeria - Somewhere
Rachel Tucker, South Africa - Thembi's Bicycle

Asia Highly Commended
Farah Ghuznavi, Bangladesh - Judgement Day
Sandeep Shete, India - Being Reasonable
Sandrina Abeywardene, Sri Lanka - Vantage Point

Canada and Europe Highly Commended
Anna Lewis, United Kingdom - Education for Life
Alison Grove, United Kingdom - Ninth Life
Ken Onyia, United Kingdom - The Perfect Peppersoup

Caribbean Highly Commended
Rosemarie Johnson Clarke, The Bahamas- The Nearly Departed Soul
Lydia Vonwyler, Grenada - Sister Rose
Suelin Low Chew Tung, Grenada - A Whiff of Bleach
Stephen Ralph, Trinidad and Tobago - This Place is Not For Sale

Pacific Highly Commended
Matthew Gibbs, Australia - The Lift
Benjamin Rodgers, Australia - Shades of Dreaming
Jason James Lees, New Zealand - The Kettle
Lani Young, Samoa - The Beast that Came from the Sea

Notes to Editors

1. The Commonwealth Foundation is an intergovernmental organisation set up to make civil society stronger. We exist to empower charities, non-governmental organisations, professional associations, trade unions, faith groups and cultural practitioners; the lifeblood of any healthy society. We equip these groups with the tools required to contribute to national and international goals of democracy, good governance, sustainable development and cultural diversity. We award excellence in the arts and help to influence key policy-makers. We champion, develop and invest in activities that enrich and strengthen society.

2. The Commonwealth Short Story Competition is an annual scheme to promote new creative writing. Established in 1996, it is funded by the Commonwealth Foundation which administers the scheme in association with the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association. It aims to increase understanding and appreciation of Commonwealth cultures and to promote rising literary talents. Anyone who is a citizen of a Commonwealth country can enter, whether a professional or amateur writer. Entries can be on any topic, and must be original, unpublished, written in English and no more than 600 words long. For details of next year’s competition, please visit:

3. For media information please contact Marcie Shaoul, Communications Manager at the Commonwealth Foundation / +44 (0) 20 7747 6582.

4. 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, please contact Emma D’Costa at the Commonwealth Foundation / +44 (0) 20 7747 6328.

5. Commonwealth Foundation, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HY
United Kingdom; Tel +44 (0)20 7930 3783; Fax +44 (0) 20 7839 8157

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