At a buzzing meet of book lovers and literary enthusiasts at the Oxford Bookstore in New Delhi’s Connaught Place, the longlist for the DSC Prize for 2017 was announced on Thursday (August 10). Aravind Adiga from India (Selection Day), Anuk Arudprasadam (The Story of a Brief Marriage) and Ashok Ferrey (The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons) from Sri Lanka, Omar Shahid Hamid (The Party Worker) from Pakistan are some of the names to make the cut this year for the prestigious international literary award that is focused on writing on the South Asian region.
Announced by the chair of jury, feminist-writer-publisher Ritu Menon, the longlist has 13 authors, which includes seven Indian, three Pakistani, two Sri Lankan and one American writer based in India. They are (in alphabetical order) Anjali Joseph, Anosh Irani, Anuk Arudprasadam, Aravind Adiga, Ashok Ferrey, Hirsh Sawhney, Karan Mahajan, KR Meera, Omar Shahid Hamid, Perumal Murugan, Sarvat Hasin, Shahbano Bilgrami and Stephen Alter.
“What we’ve tried to do is to have a selection that reflected the variety, energy, interest, creativity of writers across the region. We have three debut novels, two translations… We have a historical novel, a sports novel, a deeply reflective novel on family life… we’ve got something that’s pure romance, fun – there is a whole range that the 13 novels managed to happily capture,” Menon told indianexpress.com.
The winner will be announced on November 18, the final day of the Dhaka Literary Festival, which will be held between November 16 and 18 this year.
The $25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is one of the most coveted awards for authors, and is open to writers of any ethnicity or nationality as long as the writing is about South Asia and its people.
Last year, the winner was Anuradha Roy for her book Sleeping on Jupiter (published by Hachette, India). Past winners of the DSC Prize include HM Naqvi of Pakistan, Shehan Karunatilaka of Sri Lanka, Jeet Thayil and Cyrus Mistry from India, and Jhumpa Lahiri who won it back in 2015 for The Lowland.
Delving into the judging process for the longlist, Menon spoke about the 65-odd books that the five-member international jury had read, which included several first-time authors as well as translations from the region.
This is the seventh year of the award, which was instituted back in 2010 with the vision to showcase and reward literary talent in this region. It is mean to also encourage 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.
The Thursday event also had small video snippets from the five jury members, apart from Menon – Steven Bernstein (LA-based screenwriter-director-lecturer), Valentine Cunningham (Prof Emeritus of English language and literature at Oxford University), Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (London-based journalist), Senath Walter Parera (Sr Prof in English in Sri Lanka). In his video address, Bernstein interestingly pointed out the relevance of listening to voices out of South Asia in the current scenario.
This year’s announcement was preceded by evocative readings by designer and theatre artiste Oroon Das of 2015 winner Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland and last year’s winner Anuradha Roy’s Sleeping on Jupiter.