28 September, 2010

A New Prize for South Asian Literature

I am over at Huffington Post Books blogging about the new $50,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. You can read the full post at this link, but here’s an excerpt:

I heard about being included on the long list for this prize via a google alert that also had one alerting me to the fact that someone was flogging a copy of my novel on ebay. I guess technology has a way of keeping us all humble. In going through the list, I was not surprised to find many of the books were written by women and/or related to themes that are usually excluded when the American powers that be decide to compile lists – of top hundreds, of best of, etc. (For a great overview on all that, read Alyss Dixson’s piece in The Atlantic, ‘On Invisibility, Gender & Publishing.’ )

The prize, as announced in the Hindustan Times, is a brand new one in the literary field. It was initiated in the belief that there was a need for a prize of substantial heft to allow the recognition of writing about South Asia that reflects not so much an eye on a Western reader as it does the particular complexities of the sub continent.

With a view to making it a little easier to access these stories, here is the complete list with the books linked to reviews that I felt understood both the content of each story as well as the intention of the author.

DSC long-list:
Upamanyu Chatterjee: Way To Go (Penguin)
Amit Chaudhuri: The Immortals (Picador India)
Chandrahas Choudhury: Arzee the Dwarf (HarperCollins)
Musharraf Ali Farooqui: The Story of a Widow (Picador India)
Ru Freeman: A Disobedient Girl (Penguin/ Viking)
Anjum Hassan: Neti Neti (IndiaInk/ Roli Books)
Tania James: Atlas of Unknowns (Pocket Books)
Manju Kapur: The Immigrant (Faber & Faber)
HM Naqvi: Home Boy (HarperCollins)
Ali Sethi: The Wish Maker (Penguin)
Jaspreet Singh: Chef (Bloomsbury)
Aatish Taseer: The Temple Goers (Picador India)
Daniyal Mueenuddin: In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (Random House)
Neel Mukherjee: A Life Apart (Picador India)

and in translation

Salma: The Hour Past Midnight (Zubaan, translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom)
Sankar: The Middleman (Penguin, translated by Arunava Sinha)

The shortlist will be announced at the DSC South Asian Literature Festival to be held in October in London, and the winner will be announced at the Jaipur Literature Festival in January, 2011. During a Q&A session at Fall for the Book this week, a student asked me what was different about being a published author. The difference, as I see it, is not the thrill that comes from recognition accorded to ones own book, but the recognition that arises within an author of the vast talent that lies on all sides of her among her peers. May the best book win, but in the meantime, may all of us authors add fifteen new books about South Asia to his or her reading list.

There’s also a nice piece by Nilanjana Roy on the Asian Novel at this link.

2 Responses to “A New Prize for South Asian Literature”

  1. Serena says:

    Congrats on the nomination. How was your reading Baltimore at the book festival? Sorry I missed you.

  2. Ru says:

    Serena – The festival was really well organized. Had a great interviewer, sold books, signed autographs, so all good.

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The Books:

The Books:

On Sal Mal Lane

In the tradition of In the Time of the Butterflies and The Kite Runner, a tender, evocative novel about the years leading up to the Sri Lankan civil war.

A Disobedient Girl

A Disobedient Girl is a compelling map of womanhood, its desires and loyalties, set against the backdrop of beautiful, politically turbulent, Sri Lanka.


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