Kritika Pandey declared overall winner of 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

On Tuesday, Indian author Kritika Pandey was declared the overall winner of the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She won the prize for her story The Great Indian Tee and Snakes. The Commonwealth Foundation announced Pandey’s award in an online ceremony.

Kritika Pandey hails from Ranchi in Jharkhand. She was chosen as the overall winner from five regional winners. On June 2, she had been declared the recipient for the regional award for Asia.

A press release by the Commonwealth Foundation said the book is a “haunting story of forbidden love in contemporary India”. It said the novel “tells of an unlikely friendship which reaches across religious divides, set against the background of a tea seller’s stall”. According to Pandey, she “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’.”

Ghanaian author and chairperson of the judges Nii Ayikwei Parkes presented the award to Pandey. Actor Swara Bhasker read an extract from the story. The ceremony featured readings from Booker prizewinning author Bernardine Evaristo and actors Bhasker, Elizabeth McGovern, Kerry Fox, and Leila Bertrand.

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