‘Cow and Company’ by Parashar Kulkarni

Sticking with Granta Magazine and the idea of larger-than-life figures, here’s a story that won the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. He was the first Indian to win it and it was his first work of short fiction to be published. It follows four men looking for a cow to be the mascot of the British Chewing Gum Company in colonial India in the early-1900s. They need this cow as part of their publicity campaign to lure people away from chewing paan to their gum. “What better way to get the natives to love our chewing gum than to link it to the cow? … The cow chews all day long. All Hindus love cows. If we use her on our posters they will love our chewing gum.” With humor and satire, Kulkarni takes on class, caste, religion, race, gender, and more here.

First published in Granta online, May 2016, and available to read here, and later published as part of the novel Cow and Company, Viking, 2019

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