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14 authors on South Asian literature prize long-list

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 07:16:38 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Acknowledging the diversity of literature emanating from the region, the DSC Limited Tuesday announced a long-list of 14 works of fiction as also the five-member jury of the first DSC prize for South Asian literature.

The prize carries a purse of $50,000. The DSC Ltd organises the Jaipur Literature Festival in the pink city every year.

The long-list includes "Way to Go" by Upamanyu Chatterjee, "The Middleman" by Mani Sankar Mukherjee, "The Immortals" by Amit Chaudhuri, "Arzee the Dwarf" by Chandrahas Choudhury, "The Story of a Widow" by M.A. Farooqui, and "The Immigrant" by Manju Kapur, among others.

The names of the six short-list books will be announced by October-end at the DSC South Asian Literature Festival in London and the winner at the Jaipur Literature Festival in January 2010.

The titles are either set in South Asia or centre around south Asian protagonists and bring forth typical concerns upholding the socio-political and economic milieu of the region.

The other titles on the long-list are - "A Disobedient Girl" by Ru Freeman, "Neti Neti" by Anjum Hassan, "Atlas of Unknowns" by Tania James, "Home Boy" by H.M. Naqvi, "The Hour Past Midnight" by Salma, "The Wish Maker" by Ali Sethi, "Chef" by Jaspreet Singh and "The Temple Goers" by Aatish Taseer.

The five-member jury chaired by freelance editor, critic and writer Nilanjana S. Roy comprises Britain-based Labour Party politician Matthew Evans, who is also the former chairman of publisher Faber and Faber, US-based novelist of Indian origin Amitava Kumar, former editor of Granta and The Independent on Sunday Ian Jack and London-based Pakistani writer Moni Mohsin.

Announcing the long-list, Britain-based social activist and charity fund-raiser Surina Narula, whose family owns the DSC Ltd, said: "South Asian literature is at a crucial standpoint with a potential for tremendous growth. We want to promote literature that cuts across the regional divides. Moreover, literature makes one think and often changes our lives."

Guest of Honour Lord Meghnad Desai, economist and British MP, who graced the announcement with wife and novelist Kishwar Desai said the prize was instituted on the common presumption that South Asia has emerged as a powerful economic destination.

"The quality of south Asian writing is excellent and special. We have just begun to explore the range of south Asian literature. The region is the biggest buyer and seller of books," he said.

"Even a best-selling novelist like Jeffrey Archer had to come to India to release his book, 'Paths of Glory', after his publisher told him that India has one of the largest markets for English books," Desai said.

Dwelling upon the importance of literary prizes, British writer William Dalrymple who is on the advisory board of the DSC prize, shared a slice from his life.

"When I was writing 'The White Mughals', I ran into a huge overdraft of nearly 25,000 pounds. It took me five years to write my book. I even had to pull my kids out of private school. But two prizes - the Wolfson Prize for History (2002) and the Scottish Book of the Year award (2003) - paid off the overdraft and helped me tide over the crisis. Prizes also bring recognition to writers and can transform lives of young writers completely," Dalrymple told IANS.

Chairperson of the jury Nilanjana S. Roy said the 50 books that jury read to select the long-list showed "that south Asian fiction was deviating from diaspora stories targeted to woo the west".

"Authors are now confident to narrate stories set in their own environs. You have to enter their world," Roy told IANS.





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