Tuesday 17 October 2017

Trinidad and Tobago author crowned Commonwealth Short Story winner

The prestigious prize has gone to a new short story writer.

Books on a shelf (Ryan Phillips/PA)
Books on a shelf (Ryan Phillips/PA)

By Katie Archer

The winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize has been announced as a first-time author of the genre from Trinidad and Tobago.

Ingrid Persaud won this year’s title with the first short story she has written, The Sweet Sop, fighting off tough competition from more than 6,000 entries from across the Commonwealth.

Persaud, who has previously worked as a legal academic, a visual artist and a project manager, published her debut novel If I Never Went Home in 2014 and is currently working on her second book.

Ingrid Persaud is the winner (Commonwealth Writers/PA)

The Sweet Sop explores the relationship between fathers and sons as well as illness, death and Caribbean masculinity, all tied together by the theme of chocolate.

Recent family losses and a true story about an assassination carried out by feeding the victim poisoned chocolate were the inspirations behind the story.

Chair of the judging panel, novelist Kamila Shamsie said: “The judges were very impressed by The Sweet Sop’s originality, the strength of its characterisation, the control of voice, and its humour and emotional punch.

Writers from around the world entered the competition (Ryan Phillips/PA)

“It loses none of its effectiveness on a second or third or fourth re-reading, always the mark of a rich and layered story.”

Persaud, who has homes in Barbados and London, said: “I am humbled to be this year’s winner.

“The Sweet Sop is an intimate story that attempts to ask universal questions.”

Writers entered their short stories to the competition (Daniel Law/PA)

The prize was awarded at a ceremony on June 30 at The Arts House in Singapore after being judged by a panel of five international writers.

In its sixth year, the prize is run by Commonwealth Writers, part of the Commonwealth Foundation, and recognises the best unpublished short fiction in English.

The ceremony was also attended by the four other regional winners, Akwaeke Emezi for Who Is Like God, Anushka Jasraj for Drawing Lessons, Tracy Fells for The Naming of Moths, and Nat Newman for The Death of Margaret Roe.

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