We would like to thank all the writers who participated in the Desi Writers Lounge Short Story competition 2012. The volume and quality of the stories we received defied our expectations, and it was not an easy task to sort through them to select the winners. The stories covered a wide variety of subjects such as human psyche, relationships, exile, communal riots and even cyborgs.
A panel of three judges carefully read the short stories, examining them for language, originality, structure, theme, overall impact and execution. After several rounds of shortlisting, they were finally able to narrow down on three stories that stood out because of their excellent prose and execution.
So, without further ado, the winners are:
The Inauguration by Suneetha Balakrishnan
Suneetha Balakrishnan writes in and translates into English and Malayalam. Her latest publication is the Malayalam translation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. She is an independent journalist by profession and works from her home in Trivandrum, India. Her debut novel, set in her paradoxical home region, Kerala, awaits a publisher.
Judges’ note: Balakrishnan’s story impresses with its unassuming eloquence. Her voice is authentic and she never trespasses on the narrative — letting events unfold at their own pace with minimal exposition. The world of The Inauguration is wonderfully rich in visuals and politics and Balakrishnan knows that all she needs to do is walk the reader through it, saying, “Look around you.” The result is an almost cinematic reading experience.
Read The Inauguration.
The Maneater by Abeer Hoque
Abeer Hoque is a Nigerian born Bangladeshi American writer and photographer. She’ll have some of your pink martini. “The Maneater” is an excerpt from her novel in progress. See more at olivewitch.com.
Judges’ note: Written in quite a stunning style, the story presents a newfangled approach to the age old premise of love and loss. The descriptions are vivid, the tone gloomy, and the commentary crisp, all of which add to the authenticity of this piece. If the characters do not seem well developed or if they are lacking in their personalities, it is only because this story is part of a larger text. Upon a second read, everything suddenly seems to click into place, completing the puzzle. The fact that this is an excerpt does not take anything away from the story; it leaves you wanting more.
Read The Maneater here.
The Stabbing by Nikesh Murali
Nikesh Murali’s work (which include comics, poems and short stories) has appeared in more than 80 publications worldwide. His works have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French. He won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the Asian region in 2011. His poetry was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2007. He is currently working towards his Doctorate in Creative Writing.
Judges’ note: Like a bullet that hits its target, The Stabbing does not veer off a straight-line path. The story was chosen for its simple and effective prose and its comprehensive treatment of the subject matter. Short precise sentences — wrapped in clever little paragraphs — make the narrative read like a compelling news report. Murali combines calculated thoughts with clear language to produce an effortlessly flowing account, almost like a ballet performance.
Congratulations to the winners! They all receive a copy of Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s novel Between Clay and Dust.
Home Calling by Fatima Khalid
How the World Rights Itself by Shefali Shah Choksi
Don’t forget to read winning entries from other editions of the DWL short story competition.