Twenty-six-year-old Sanjana Thakur from India is the Asia regiona winner of the 2024 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She joins four other regional winners: Julie Bouchard from Canada, Pip Robertson from New Zealand, Reena Usha Rungoo from Mauritius, and Portia Subran from Trinidad and Tobago. The overall winner will be announced at an online ceremony on June 26.

Taking its name from the Bollywood actress, Sanjana Thakur’s “Aishwarya Rai” is an adoption story in reverse, as a young woman seeks out a possible mother from a shelter. In this story, in her small Mumbai apartment with too-thin walls and a too-small balcony, Avni watches laundry turn round in her machine, dreams of white limousines, and tries out different mothers from the shelter. One of them must be just right.

Sanjana Thakur has a degree in English and Anthropology from Wellesley College and is currently pursuing an MFA in Fiction at UT Austin’s New Writers Project.

The five regional winners’ stories will be published online by the literary magazine Granta ahead of the announcement of the overall winner.

The other regional winners are:

  • Africa: “Dite” by Reena Usha Rungoo (Mauritius)

  • Canada and Europe: ‘‘What Burns” by Julie Bouchard (Canada), translated by Arielle Aaronson from the French

  • Caribbean: “The Devil’s Son” by Portia Subran (Trinidad and Tobago)

  • Pacific: “A River Then the Road” by Pip Robertson (New Zealand)