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Trinidadian writer wins BBC National Short Story Award

WINNER: Ingrid Persaud

TRINIDADIAN WRITER and winner of the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Ingrid Persaud, has won the thirteenth BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University 2018 (NSSA) for ‘The Sweet Sop’, her first short story about a young Trinidadian man reunited with his absent father via the power of chocolate.

Described by judge and previous winner of the award, K J Orr as “tender and ebullient, heartbreaking and full of humour”, the story’s unique voice and emotional power were further praised by judge and former shortlistee, Benjamin Markovits saying “Sentimentality is hard to write well… ‘The Sweet Sop’ gets the balance just right, the anger and humour and love.”

Ingrid Persaud was presented with the prize of £15,000 on Tuesday evening (Oct 2) by the 2018 Chair of Judges, Stig Abell, at a ceremony held at Cambridge University.

The news was announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, during a special programme celebrating the short story.

Chair of the judges and Editor of the TLS, Stig Abell said: “The judges were unanimous in their praise for a story which keeps a consistency of voice without smoothing over the reality of genuine conflict. The relationship between Victor and Reggie, estranged father and son, who find solace in chocolate, is an utterly convincing and memorable one, a clever inversion of normal parental process. We are all delighted to give Ingrid Persaud this award.”  

Winner of the 2016 NSSA and fellow judge K J Orr, commented: “This moving story about a father-son relationship is truly memorable – at once tender and ebullient, heartbreaking and full of humour. Here’s a writer who understands the compressed, conflicted potential of the short story.”

Born in Trinidad and now based between Barbados and London, Ingrid Persaud came to writing later in life after careers as an academic at King’s College London, a Goldsmith College and Central St. Martins-trained visual artist and a project manager.

She has always been preoccupied with the power of words, both in her academic work and as a fine artist where she explored text as art, and she fell in love with the short story form after reading William Trevor.

‘The Sweet Sop’ is Persaud’s first short story and it won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2017. Her debut novel, If I Never Went Home (Blue China Press) was published in 2014 and her work has appeared in Granta, Prospect and Pree magazines.

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