A university professor Parashar Kulkarni has become the first Indian author to win the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, beating almost 4,000 entries for the 5,000 pound award with the first short story he has ever written.

Parashar Kulkarni, assistant professor in Social Sciences at Yale NUS College in Singapore, was presented the Prize by Man Booker Prize Winner and former short story judge Marlon James at the Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica on June 5.

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.

Nearly 4,000 entries from 47 different countries were received for this year’s award, for the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English by a writer from a Commonwealth country.

Gillian Slovo, Chair of the judging panel, said, “In ‘Cow and Company’, Parashar has conjured up a large cast and their way of life, and at the same time he has succeeded in exploring serious issues in a way that can make us laugh – and all of this in a few thousand words.”

Paula DL

Kulkarni, who works at the intersection of religion and political economy said he was encouraged and has been trying to write for many years.

The author who has 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.

The story, ‘Cow and Company’ had earlier been declared the winning entry from the Asia region.