Hiranandani Upscale School student crowned winner of Queen’s University Belfast

Gyanepsaa Singh from Hiranandani Upscale School in Chennai has been crowned the winner of the Queen’s University Belfast’s inaugural Short Story Competition led by the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s.

Gyanepsaa took first place with her mesmerizing short story ‘Fingerprints’.

Gyanepsaa will have the opportunity to showcase her work at the iconic Jaipur Literary Festival, which brings together a diverse mix of the world’s greatest writers, thinkers, humanitarians, politicians, business leaders, sports people and entertainers on one stage to champion the freedom to express and engage in thoughtful debate and dialogue.

Speaking on the award, Gyanepsaa said: “I was surprised and delighted to find that I’d won the competition. It was very encouraging to hear the judges’ feedback on my story, and I definitely hope to keep writing in the future.’’

The two competition runners-up are Dia Bhojwani from JBCN International School in Mumbai with ‘The Planner’ and Shruti Mankale from National Academy for Learning in Bangalore with ‘One Day the Sky Turned Blue’.

The competition was open to students in Years 11 and 12 in India and Queen’s received entries from almost 30 high schools across India.

The student entries were judged by Professor Glenn Patterson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University and Kelly McCaughrain, renowned writer and previously the Seamus Heaney Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland.

Commenting on Gyanepsaa’s winning entry, Professor Patterson, said: “Gyanepsaa’s short story ‘Fingerprints’ was exceptional and a very worthy winner of our inaugural Short Story Competition.

When Kelly McCaughrain and I came to make the final decision, we were delighted to find that not only were our shortlists almost identical, but that we both had Gyanepsaa’s story coming out on top . It displays a real confidence and adeptness with the short story form, and an understanding of how what is implied is often every bit as important, and powerful, as what is explicitly stated.”

The judges were so impressed by the quality of the stories that they commended a further six submissions:

‘For the Times We Are Changing’ by Vaidik Vaibhav Shahane from Podar International School in Mumbai
‘Bottled Up’ by Aditi Dhoreliya from The British School in New Delhi
‘Galub Jamun’ by Maithili Dubey from Canadian International School in Bangalore
‘Number 1372’ by Ananya Giri from National Public School in Indiranagar
‘Ten Thousand Miles’ by Kriti Mohanty from Greenwood High School in Bangalore
‘The Ethereal Wing’ by Nidhi Rayudu from The Hyderabad Public School in Begumpet
Addressing the participants, Kelly McCaughrain said: “I was so impressed by the quality of the entries; it was incredibly tough to narrow them down. I’d like to congratulate everyone who entered because writing a story is always an achievement and each of you should be very proud.

The wonderful thing about stories is that they can take you anywhere, but it’s also true that no one can tell stories about your world as well as you, so it was a real privilege for me to have this fascinating glimpse of Indian homes, communities, schools, landscapes and people through your eyes.”