Academic Parashar Kulkarni, assistant professor in Social Sciences at Yale NUS College in Singapore, became the first Indian author to win the Commonwealth short story prize, beating almost 4,000 entries to receive the £5,000 award with the first short story he has ever written. He works at the intersection of religion and political economy and was infact trying to write for several years.
He was presented the Prize by Man Booker Prize Winner and former short story judge and Man Booker prizewinner Marlon James at the Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica on June 5th, 2016. The story, 'Cow and Company' had earlier been declared the winning entry from the regional - Asia region.
The winning story, 'Cow and Company' is a narrative set in India in the 1990s about four men who go in search of a cow to feature in an advertisement for chewing gum. "I am very happy to receive the Commonwealth Short Story Prize which provides an inclusive, accessible and international platform for participation which is particularly helpful for new writers," Kulkarni said in a statement.
Over 4,000 entries from 47 different countries were received for this year’s award, for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English by a writer from a Commonwealth country and 26 stories were shortlisted for the final round. According to the Chair of the judging panel, Gillian Slovo, Parashar has invented up a huge cast and their way of life, subsequently succeeding in exploring serious issues in a way that makes one laugh – and all of this in a few thousand words.
The Indian-origin author has also won the British Academy Brian Barry Prize in Political Science (2015) for his research on religion, property rights and violence against women in colonial India, said the short story was part of a larger project.