Trinidad writer Ingrid Persaud wins BBC short story award

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Jaryd Niles-Morris

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Ingrid Persuad has won the 13th BBC National Short Story Award

Trinidadian writer Ingrid Persaud has won the 13th BBC National Short Story Award for her story The Sweet Sop.

It tells the story of a young Trinidadian man who reconnects with his absent father thanks to a shared love of chocolate.

Judge and former winner K J Orr described it as “tender and ebullient, heartbreaking and full of humour”.

Persaud was presented with the £15,000 prize on Tuesday evening at a special ceremony at Cambridge University.

Welsh novelist Cynan Jones won the BBC National Short Story Award in 2017 for his work The Edge of Shoal.

The Sweet Sop was Persaud’s first short story she wrote and it also won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2017.

It tells the tale of a young man called Victor, who finds out his absent father is dying.

Chocolate becomes their form of communication as they build a parent/child relationship and Persaud was inspired by the recent deaths of family members.

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Stig Abell. K J Orr, Sarah Howe, Di Speirs and Benjamin Markovits made up the panel

It was only in later life that Persaud, who lives in Barbados and London, started writing after a long career as an academic at King’s College London, Goldsmith College and Central St. Martins.

Her debut novel, If I Never Went Home, was published in 2014.

She was presented with the award by Stig Abell, the 2018 Chair of Judges, live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row programme.

Abell, who is the editor of the Times Literary Supplement, 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.”

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