26th November 2015; London: The world’s literati gathered at the renowned London School of Economics and Political Science on Thursday, 26th November, as the eagerly awaited shortlist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016 was announced at a prestigious event. Established in 2010, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature awards a prize of US $50,000 for the best work in fiction to one author from any ethnicity or nationality provided they write about South Asia and its people.
After a welcome address by Dr Mukulika Banerjee, Director of the South Asia Centre and Associate Professor in Anthropology at the LSE, the guests assembled to hear the eminent shortlist revealed.
The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016 shortlist comprises:
Akhil Sharma: Family Life (Faber & Faber, UK)
Anuradha Roy: Sleeping on Jupiter (Hachette, India)
K.R. Meera: Hang Woman (Translated by J Devika; Penguin, India)
Mirza Waheed: The Book of Gold Leaves (Viking/Penguin India)
Neel Mukherjee: The Lives of Others (Vintage/Penguin Random House, UK)
Raj Kamal Jha: She Will Build Him A City (Bloomsbury, India)
The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature prides itself on a thorough and transparent judging process and is modelled on global best practices. The jury panel is made up of eminent figures who have all worked in or around South Asia and understand the fabric of the society needed to best judge the narrative around the texts.
This year’s shortlist was judged by an international five member jury panel comprised of Mark Tully, Chair of the jury panel and renowned journalist who has commentated on a wide range of issues affecting the South Asian region for over four decades; Dennis Walder, Emeritus Professor of Literature at the Open University, UK, who has authored several articles and books on 19th and 20th century literature;
Karen Allman, highly respected book seller and literary coordinator based out of Seattle, USA; Neloufer de Mel, Senior Professor of English at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, who has written extensively on society, culture and feminism; and Syed Manzoorul Islam, celebrated Bangladeshi writer, translator, critic and academic.
Mark Tully, Jury Chair said, ‘We have had to make difficult decisions because all the books on the very varied long-list could qualify for the shortlist. Our final list still reflects the variety and vigour of South Asian fiction writing and writing about South Asia. One of the most striking features of the list is the quality of writing. The novels are also remarkable for their realism and for the way they convey atmosphere. I am particularly glad that a translation from a South Asian language into English is included in the shortlist’.
Another highlight of the prize is that writing in regional languages is highly encouraged and the prize money is equally shared between the author and the translator in case a translated entry wins. This works as a great impetus for regional writers who often struggle to gain visibility on international shores.
Speaking about the shortlist, Surina Narula, MBE and co-founder of the DSC Prize said, ‘Once again tonight we have seen some of the world’s greatest authors recognised for their fantastic contributions to the genre of South Asian literature. It was a difficult process for the jury to whittle down the longlist to just six shortlisted entries; but I think they have chosen wisely. The array of talent that we continue to showcase is breathtaking and reflective of the South Asia’s changing dynamics.”
This year, the winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature will be announced at the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka, on 16th January 2016.
For further information please contact:
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Notes to Editors:
For more information on the DSC Prize for South Asian Literate please visit the following:
Longlist Announcement – New Delhi – 16th October 2015- At the Oxford Book Store
Shortlist Announcement – London – 26th November 2015 – At the London School of Economics & Political Science
Winner Announcement – Galle, Sri Lanka – 16th January 2016 – At the Galle Literary Festival
Shortlist Author Profiles:
FAMILY LIFE BY AKHIL SHARMA
About the Book
Heart-wrenching and darkly comic, this acclaimed second novel from the author of An Obedient Father is the beautifully told story of a boy torn between duty and survival. For eight-year-old Ajay Mishra and his older brother Birju, family life in Delhi in the late 1970s follows a comfortable, predictable routine: bathing on the roof, queuing for milk, playing day-long games of cricket in the street. Everything changes when their father finds a job in America – a land of carpets and elevators, swimsuits and hot water – and the Mishras, envy of their neighbourhood back home, become the latest unknowns in the vast expanse of New York. Life in America is extraordinary, and as snows and summers come and go the brothers adjust to their exciting new world of prosperity, girls and 24-hour TV. But then comes the hot, sultry day when everything falls apart: tragedy turns the Mishras’ American dream into a living nightmare and young Ajay finds himself lost and virtually orphaned in a land that is not his own.
About the Author
Akhil Sharma was born in Delhi in India and emigrated to the USA in 1979. His stories have been published in the New Yorker and in Atlantic Monthly, and have been included in The Best American Short Stories and O. Henry Prize Collections. His first novel, An Obedient Father, won the 2001 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. He was named one of Granta’s ‘Best of Young American Novelists’ in 2007.
SLEEPING ON JUPITER BY ANURADHA ROY
About the Book
A train stops at a railway station. A young woman jumps off. She has wild hair, sloppy clothes, a distracted air. She looks Indian, yet she is somehow not. The sudden violence of what happens next leaves the other passengers gasping. The train terminates at Jarmuli, a temple town by the sea. Here, among pilgrims, priests and ashrams, three old women disembark only to encounter the girl once again. What is someone like her doing in this remote corner, which attracts only worshippers? Over the next five days, the old women live out their long-planned dream of a holiday together; their temple guide finds ecstasy in forbidden love; and the girl is joined by a photographer battling his own demons. The full force of the evil and violence beneath the serene surface of the town becomes evident when their lives overlap and collide. Unexpected connections are revealed between devotion and violence, friendship and fear as Jarmuli is revealed as a place with a long, dark past that transforms all who encounter it. This is a stark and unflinching novel by a spellbinding storyteller, about religion, love, and violence in the modern world.
About the Author
Anuradha Roy won the Economist Crossword Prize for Fiction for her novel The Folded Earth, which was nominated for several other prizes including the Man Asia, the D.S.C., and the Hindu Literary Award. Her first novel, An Atlas of Impossible Longing, has been widely translated and was named by World Literature Today as one of the sixty essential books on modern India. She lives in Ranikhet.
HANG WOMAN BY K R MEERA
About the Book
The Grddha Mullick family bursts with marvellous tales of hangmen and hangings in which they figure as eyewitnesses to the momentous events that have shaped the history of the subcontinent. When twenty-two-year-old Chetna Grddha Mullick is appointed the first woman executioner in India, assistant and successor to her father, her life explodes under the harsh lights of television cameras. When the day of the execution arrives, will she bring herself to take a life? Meera’s spectacular imagination turns the story of Chetna’s life into an epic and perverse coming-of-age tale. The lurid pleasures of voyeurism and the punishing ironies of violence are kept in agile balance as the drama hurtles to its inevitable climax.
About the Author
K.R. Meera started out as a journalist in 1998. She won a series of awards for her reportage till she quit to be a full-time writer of fiction in 2006. She has since published short stories, novels and essays, and has been recognized with some of the most prestigious prizes for literary writing in Malayalam including the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award and the Odakkuzhal Award. She lives in Kottayam with her husband Dileep and daughter Shruthi.
About the Translator
A bilingual feminist scholar, J. Devika has translated Malayali women authors from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and contemporary writers like Sarah Joseph, Nalini Jameela, Anitha Thampi and V.M. Girija besides K.R. Meera
THE BOOK OF GOLD LEAVES BY MIRZA WAHEED
About the Book
Two lovers are destined to meet in the city of Srinagar. Roohi is a beautiful, spirited girl who is haunted by dreams of a mysterious man she believes is her true love. Faiz is a young papier mâché artist on the cusp of painting his masterpiece,the Falaknuma. When fate conspires to bring them together on one windsweptevening, both fall irrevocably in love. But it is 1991. Kashmir is simmering with political strife and it is only a matter of time before Srinagar is engulfed in the gathering storm. Before they know it, the city they call home erupts in violence, threatening everything that the two lovers hold dear. An age old tale of love, war, duty and choice, The Book of Gold Leaves is as devastatingly resonant as it is beautifully written.
About the Author
Mirza Waheed was born and brought up in Kashmir. His debut novel The Collaborator was an international bestseller and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Shakti Bhatt Prize and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. It was also book of the year for Telegraph, New Statesman, Financial Times, Business Standard and the Telegraph (India), among others. Waheed has written for the BBC, Guardian, Granta, Guernica, Al Jazeera English and the New York Times. He lives in London.
THE LIVES OF OTHERS BY NEEL MUKHERJEE
About the Book
Calcutta, 1967. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind before disappearing is a note. At home, his family slowly begins to unravel. Poisonous rivalries grow, the once-thriving family business implodes and destructive secrets are unearthed. And all around them the sands are shifting as society fractures, for this is a moment of turbulence, of inevitable and unstoppable change.
About the Author
Neel Mukherjee was born in Calcutta. His first novel, A Life Apart (2010), won the Vodafone-Crossword Award in India, the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award for best fiction, and was shortlisted for the inaugural DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. This is his second novel. He lives in London.
SHE WILL BUILD HIM A CITY BY RAJ KAMAL JHA
About the Book
As night falls in Delhi a mother spins tales from her past for her sleeping daughter. Her now grown-up child is a puzzle with a million pieces whom she hopes, through her words and her love, to somehow make whole again. Meanwhile, as the last train from Rajiv Chowk Station pulls away, a young man rides the metro and dreams of murder. In another corner of the city, a newborn wrapped in a blood-red towel lies on the steps of an orphanage as his mother walks away. There are twenty million bodies in this city and this woman, man and child are only three. But their stories – of a secret love that blossoms in the shadows of grief, of a corrosive guilt that taints the soul, and of an orphaned boy who maps out his own destiny – weave in and out of the lives of those around them to form a dazzling kaleidoscope of a novel. Beautiful, beguiling and audacious, this is the story of a city and its people, of love and horror, of belonging and forgiveness: a powerful and unforgettable tale of modern India.
About the Author
Raj Kamal Jha is Chief Editor of The Indian Express which has won the International Press Institute’s India Award for Excellence in Journalism three times. His novels include The Blue Bedspread, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, winner of the 2000 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Eurasia) and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; If You Are Afraid of Heights, a finalist for the Hutch–Crossword Book Award in 2003; and Fireproof, rated first in CNN–IBN’s list of best books published in India in 2006. His novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Raj works in New Delhi and lives in Gurgaon.
About the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature:
The US $50,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature which was instituted in 2010, is one of the most prestigious international literary awards specifically focused on South Asian writing. It is a unique and coveted prize and is open to authors of any ethnicity or nationality as long as the writing is about South Asia and its people. It also encourages writing in regional languages and translations and the prize money is equally shared between the author and the translator in case a translated entry wins. Now in its 6th year, the DSC Prize has been successful in bringing South Asian writing to a larger global audience through a celebration of the achievements of the authors writing about this region, and thereby raise awareness of South Asian literature and culture around the world. The DSC Prize is committed to extend the conversation on South Asian writing and reaches out to various audiences through exciting & creative partnerships with the London School of Economics, the Frankfurt Book Fair, the Jaipur Literature Festival, the Galle Literary Festival, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, the Goethe Institute, the University of Delhi amongst others. Past winners of the DSC Prize have been H M Naqvi of Pakistan (Homeboy, Harper Collins, India), Shehan Karunatilaka of Sri Lanka (Chinaman, Random House, India), Jeet Thayil (Narcopolis, Faber & Faber, London) and Cyrus Mistry from India (Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer, Aleph India), and Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland, Vintage Books/Random House, India) who won the prize last year.
About Mrs Surina Narula MBE:
An accomplished British-Indian entrepreneur, Mrs. Narula worked in the family business, DSC Group, an international conglomerate focused on real estate, construction, infrastructure and retail, before stepping into the international development arena where she spearheads various development campaigns in South Asia, with a focus on women’s and girls’ empowerment and education. In her capacity as Board Director for PLAN International, International Childcare Trust, Hope for Children, and Founder of Consortium for Street Children, she experienced first-hand the working of South Asian society especially the undertones of poverty, illiteracy and disproportionate wealth and with this the changing dynamics in India. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016 is an extension of Mrs. Narula’s vision for the community, an effort to provide a platform to authors through which they can express their observations on the South Asian Diaspora.