New Delhi: Four authors and a translator from India are in the running for the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, which has shortlisted 26 "fresh and unexpected" stories by writers from 11 countries.
Currently in its 5th year, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000-5,000 words) in English. Short stories that are translated into English from other languages are eligible too.
The stories by the 4 shortlisted Indian writers include 'Cow and Company' by Parashar Kulkarni, 'Dirty White Strings' by Kritika Pandey, 'Girdhar's Mansion' by Sumit Ray and 'Instant Karma' by Vinayak Varma.
Additionally, noted Indian translator Arunava Sinha is also shortlisted for his translation of Bangladeshi writer Sumon Rahman's short story 'Niroporadh Ghum' (Innocent Sleep). There were nearly nearly 4000 entries from 47 countries for the 2016 prize.
Each year, five winning writers from five different Commonwealth regions are selected. Regional winners who will be announced on May 4 will receive 2,500 pounds and the overall winner, to be announced in September will receive a Prize money of 5,000 pounds.
If the winning short story is a translation into English, the translator receives equal prize money. The global judging panel, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth comprises Helon Habila (Africa), Firdous Azim (Asia), Pierre Mejlak (Canada and Europe), Olive Senior (Caribbean) and Patrick Holland (Pacific).
South African novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo who chaired the jury said, "As a novelist accustomed to the luxury of the long form it has been a treat to discover writers who manage to crystallise such different experiences into so few words.
"The stories we have chosen for the shortlist are in turn comic, touching, poetic, mysterious but always fresh and unexpected." The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is managed by Commonwealth Writers, a cultural initiative of Commonwealth Foundation, set up in 2012 to inspire, develop and connect writers and storytellers across the Commonwealth countries.
In 2012, the Commonwealth Writers discontinued the Commonwealth Book Prize and focused solely on the Short Story Prize. Past recipients from India who won the regional (Asia) Prize include Siddharth Gigoo in 2014 for 'The Umbrella Man' Anushka Jasraj in 2012 for 'Radio Story'.
Previously the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book was won by authors Rana Dasgupta for 'Solo', Vikram Seth for 'A Suitable Boy', Vikram Chandra for 'Love and Longing in Bombay', Shashi Tharoor, 'The Great Indian Novel', Salman Rushdie for 'The Ground Beneath her Feet', Rohinton Mistry ,'A Fine Balance' and 'Such a Long Journey' and V S Naipaul for 'A way in the World' among others.