CBC Literary Prizes

The Gift Of Choice by Janika Oza

Janika Oza has made the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for The Gift Of Choice.

2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist

Janika Oza is a writer, educator and graduate student based in Toronto. (Submitted by Janika Oza)

Janika Oza has made the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize longlist for The Gift Of Choice.

About Janika

Janika Oza is a writer, educator and graduate student based in Toronto. She was the winner of the 2019 Malahat Review Open Season Award in fiction for her short story Exile, and was a 2018 VONA/Voices fellow. Her writing is published in a number of journals including The Columbia Review, Into The Void, Hobart, SmokeLong Quarterly and Looseleaf Magazine, among others. She is currently working on her first novel. 

Entry in five-ish words

A country and family divided.

The story's source of inspiration

"I've been thinking a lot about borders, how they sever and displace. Also how displacement is cyclical and often not a one-time event. How forced migrations because of the Partition of India and the Expulsion of South Asians from Uganda are both displacements that exist within my own family history. These are histories I don't remember, but that I carry, and maybe this is why I can write about them and why I feel compelled to. This story is adapted from a chapter of my novel in progress, tracing multiple dislocations and exploring the fragmentation and bonds of a family."

First lines

In her mother's bedroom, Rajni outlined her eyes with kohl, observing her reflection in the polished tin mirror. Behind her, her mother scraped her hair into a tight plait that reached her waist, braiding a string of jasmine into the last few inches of hair.

"Ma," Rajni said, wincing as Arati tugged at a loose strand.

"Sorry," Arati replied, dipping her fingers into a jar of coconut oil and smoothing the halo of fuzz that framed Rajni's temples, "but you know it's important to look your best. You must impress today."

"I always impress," Rajni laughed, catching her mother's eyes in the mirror and Arati swatted her on the shoulder.

"Modesty impresses," she said.

About the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize

The winner of the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize will receive $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.

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