Kritika Pandey was announced as the overall winner of the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for her story ‘The Great Indian Tee and Snakes’ in June 2020. The award was presented by the Chair of the 2020 judging panel, acclaimed Ghanaian writer and editor, Nii Ayikwei Parkes in our first ever online ceremony, available to watch now. We were joined by all of the 2020 regional winners, five very special guest readers, and some familiar faces from previous years’ prizes.
The 2020 Prize attracted over 5000 entries from 49 countries. The prize is judged by an international panel of writers, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth. Chaired by Nii Ayikwei Parkes, the 2020 panel comprised South African writer and musician Mohale Mashigo (Judge for Africa), Executive Director of the Singapore Books Council William Phuan (Asia), Canadian author Heather O’Neill (Canada and Europe), Trinidadian scholar and writer Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw (Caribbean), and Australian writer and arts organiser Nic Low (Pacific).
Kritika Pandey’s winning story, ‘The Great Indian Tee and Snakes’, tells of an unlikely friendship which reaches across religious divides, set against the background of a tea seller’s stall. She writes of two young people trying to solve an age-old riddle of human existence: how can love overcome the forces of hatred and prejudice? Pandey says, ‘I created a strong-willed character of a Hindu girl who chooses to love a Muslim boy, even though she knows that she is not “supposed to”.’ An extract from the story was read at the ceremony by award-winning Bollywood actress Swara Bhasker, and you can read ‘The Great Indian Tee and Snakes’ now on Granta.
The moment Chair Nii Ayikwei Parkes tells Kritika Pandey she is the Overall winner of the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize
Kritika Pandey is a Pushcart-nominated Indian writer and a final year candidate for a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is a recipient of a 2020 grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation. Her works are forthcoming or have appeared in Guernica, The Common, The Bombay Literary Magazine, Raleigh Review, and UCity Review, among others. She has won the Harvey Swados Fiction Prize, the Cara Parravani Memorial Award, and the Charles Wallace Scholarship for Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh.
Commenting on the judging process, Nii said: ‘Picking the overall winner from the five regional winners is always the most difficult part of the judging process, because different judges like different stories. In our quest to convince each other, we exhort our fellow judges to reread a number of stories and that process of re-reading is always precious. In that span of time, we discover each story anew, often falling in love with stories that we didn’t love at first read. It was at this stage that this year’s winning story began to haunt us all. As I promised when we picked the regional winners, this is a story that will move people. I hope you enjoy it.’
The 2020 regional winners are: Africa winner Innocent Chizaram Ilo (Nigeria), Canada and Europe winner Reyah Martin (United Kingdom), Caribbean winner Brian S. Heap (Jamaica), and Pacific winner Andrea E. Macleod (Australia).
In partnership with Commonwealth Writers, the literary magazine Granta publishes online all the regional winners of the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, including ‘The Great Indian Tee and Snakes.’
We would like to thank all of our partners and all those involved in this year’s Prize – this year’s judging panel, readers, entrants, Paper + Ink and Granta.
Paper + Ink is proud to publish the new anthology featuring the winners of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2020. For more about our series of classic and contemporary short fiction from around the world, and to browse, purchase books or subscribe, visit: www.paperand.ink
If you would like to enter the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, the 2021 Prize will be open for online entries from 1 September 2020 – 1 November 2020, please find the entry rules and guidelines here: 2021 rules and guidelines.