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Mauritian Author Wins 2024 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

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Usha Reena Rungoo
Usha Reena Rungoo

Mauritian author Usha Reena Rungoo has clinched the 2024 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the Africa region with her captivating entry, “Dite.”

The tale delves into a Mauritian woman’s intricate relationship with tea, intertwining reflections on past romances with the colonial heritage of the beloved beverage.

Rungoo’s narrative, which resonated profoundly with the judges, explores protagonist Durga’s deep-seated affection for tea, her ties to Mauritius’ colonial past, and her complex interaction with the French language. The story artfully navigates themes of culture, identity, and the enduring impact of colonialism.

Reflecting on the genesis of “Dite,” Rungoo underscores Mauritius’ cultural affinity for tea, particularly vanilla-infused blends, while also highlighting the darker history of tea and sugar cultivation intertwined with colonial exploitation. Despite deviating from traditional short story conventions, Rungoo’s bold approach captured the judges’ attention, earning praise for its depth, complexity, and emotional resonance.

As the regional winner, Rungoo advances to the final round of judging, with the overall winner slated for announcement on June 26. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize celebrates the diverse literary talent across the Commonwealth’s member states, showcasing narratives in various languages that reflect the cultural richness of the Commonwealth.

Congratulations to Usha Reena Rungoo and the other regional winners of the 2024 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Their stories serve as powerful reminders of the depth and diversity of storytelling within the Commonwealth.

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