Mauritian writer Reena Usha Rungoo has won the 2024 Commonwealth Prize, Africa region. The 39-year-old is one of five regional winners selected from a record-breaking 7,359 entrants.

Facilitated by the Commonwealth Foundation, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction globally. The regional winners receive £2,500 GBP while the overall winner gets £5,000 GBP.

Rungoo was selected as the regional winner for Africa for her short story “Dite”. “Dite”, which means “tea” in Creole, is an exploration of a Mauritian woman’s love of tea and of her ties to the drink’s colonial history. Each tea in her collection contains an olfactory memory in which her relationship with education, language, sex, and other women is captured.

Rungoo is a Mauritian writer, scholar, teacher, speaker, and mother. As an islander, an African, and a diasporic South Asian, she uses the language of fiction (whether as a writer or a literary critic) to address how colonial violence infiltrates our beings, our languages and our desires, and on the creative ways in which we seek to resist this. She is an assistant professor of literature at Harvard University.

The 2024 judging panel includes chair of the Judges Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, joined by Keletso Mopai (Africa), O Thiam Chin (Asia), Shashi Bhat (Canada & Europe), Richard Georges(Caribbean), and Melissa Lucashenko (Pacific).

The other winning stories include “Aishwarya Rai” by Sanjana Thakur (Asia), ‘‘What Burns” by Julie Bouchard (Canada and Europe), “The Devil’s Son” by Portia Subran (Caribbean), and “A River Then the Road” by Pip Robertson (Pacific).

Chair of the Judges Makumbi congratulated the regional winners in a statement:

The short story form has neither the luxury of time nor the comfort of space. It is an impatient form; it does not dance around. The punch of a good short story leaves you breathless. As the judging panel, we enjoyed, sorrowed, celebrated and eventually agreed that these stories came up on top of the different regions.

The five regional winners’ stories will be published online by the literary magazine Granta ahead of the announcement of the overall winner. The overall winner will be announced in an online ceremony on Wednesday, June 26.

Congrats to Rungoo!