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H.M. Naqvi wins South Asian literature prize for 'Home Boy'

Saturday January 22, 2011 10:42:41 PM, Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS

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Jaipur: Thirty-seven-year-old Karachi-based novelist H.M. Naqvi Saturday won the first DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for his debut novel "Home Boy", a story about the ravaged lives of three young Pakistani immigrants in US.

The prize carries a purse of $50,000 and a trophy.

The prize, instituted by the DSC Group - primary sponsor of the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival - recognizes the best of South Asian fiction and the voice of the Asian diaspora.

"Home Boy" was published in the sub-continent by Harper-Collins in 2010 and by Random House in the US.

Naqvi beat five contenders - Amit Chaudhuri ("The Immortals"), M.A. Farooqui ("The Story of a Widow"), Tania James ("Atlas of Unknowns"), Neel Mukherjee ("A Life Apart") and Manju Kapur ("The Immigrant").

The prize was awarded by Bollywood actor Kabir Bedi.

The jury, chaired by journalist and writer Nilanjana S. Roy, comprised former Granta editor Ian Jack, British politician and publisher Lord Matthew Evans and writers Amitava Kumar and Moni Mohsin. Naqvi who read an excerpt from his book, said that "he started working on 'Home Boy' in 2003".

"I worked from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. to write 'Home Boy'. I would wake up at 3 a.m., eat my breakfast at 4 a.m. and get down to writing. It was hard work. There were times I would scrape the back of the kitchen cupboard for some pasta to boil and at the end of the month I was in overdraft. The novel was a culmination of a journey," Naqvi said.

He said "'Home Boy' has all the flaws and strengths of a debut novel".

Born in 1974, Naqvi, the eldest of the three siblings, began writing at the age of six. He taught creative writing at Boston University. He now divides his time between Pakistan and New York.

In a recent interview to IANS, Naqvi said that he was "working on a new novel about Karachi - about history, mataphysics and sex".

Jury member Ian Jack said "the votes at the end of the final round on Friday in Jaipur were split three in favour of the winner and two against".







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