Novelist Siddhartha Gigoo Wins Commonwealth Short Story Prize

New Delhi
Novelist Siddhartha Gigoo Wins Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Srinagar-born novelist Siddhartha Gigoo has won the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Asia region for "Umbrella Man", a tale of surreal meditation on mental health and the environment, organisers said today.

Gigoo won 2500 pounds and will now compete with the other four regional winners for the 5000 pounds grand prize, to be announced in London on September 8.

"I'm delighted that 'The Umbrella Man' has been selected as the regional winner for Asia. I'm sure the Umbrella Man, wherever he is, would be happy too," Gigoo said in a statement.

Gigoo's prize winning story has been published in the book A Fistful of Earth and Other Stories.

Judges praised Gigoo's book for "his sensitivity and perception, which made his story stand out from the rest" and chose it as top story from the 22 stories shortlisted from the nearly 4000 entries received from countries in Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean and the Pacific.

"'The Umbrella Man' presents a surreal meditation on mental health and the environment, through its ghostly voice, abstract and philosophical themes, and telescopic structure," said Bina Shah, one of the judges.

Born in Srinagar in 1974, Gigoo's first novel The Garden of Solitude was first published in 2011. He has also written two poetry books, Fall and Other Poems (1994) and Reflections (1995).

"Most of my stories are about Kashmir, where I was born and spent my wonder years. The place now is just a faded image. Yet there are moments when it sparkles and comes alive. And thus, stories are born," Gigoo said about his prize- winning story.

The author left Kashmir in 1990 due to the political turmoil and militancy. He studied English Literature at Jawaharlal Nehru University and currently lives with his wife and daughter here.

Gigoo, whose writings have appeared in various literary journals has also produced and directed a short film The Last Day. His latest film is titled Goodbye, Mayfly.

Meanwhile, the African regional winner is "Light" by Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria), the Canada and Europe Regional Winner is "The Human Phonograph" by Jonathan Tel (UK) the Caribbean Regional Winner is "The King of Settlement 4" by Kevin Jared Hosein and the Trinidad, Pacific Regional Winner is "Famished Eels" by Mary Rokonadravu (Fiji).


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