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Three Indian authors shortlisted for literary prize

October 28, 2010 01:31 IST

Works by three Indian authors are among six shortlisted for the US $ 50,000 DSC Prize for South Asian literature, a newly-instituted literary award given annually to writers on themes such as culture, politics and history of the region.

Manju Kapur's The Immigrant, Neel Mukherjee's A Life Apart and Amit Chaudhuri's The Immortals have been shortlisted for the prestigious award. The other three authors in the short-list announced at the world-famous Shakespeare Globe Theatre in London are Musharraf Ali (The Story of a Widow), H M Naqvi (Home Boy), both from Pakistan and Tania James (Atlas of Unknowns).

Raising the issue of India-born author Rohinton Mistry's novel Such a Long Journey being removed from the syllabus of the Bombay University following protests by student wing of the Shiva Sena, Nilanjana S Roy, Indian journalist and critic said that the readers must counter censorship. "There is no remedy against people who want to silence writers but to be a reader," she said, before inviting fellow jury member and London-based Pakistani author Moni Mohsin to announce the shortlist.

Amit Chaudhuri's The Immortals is set in Mumbai during the 1970s and early 1980s. It traces the history of two families, one bathed in corporate affluence and the other subsisting on its musical tradition. The Immortals is an ordered tabulation of their unremarkable existence, with the words on the page like the agglomeration of notes on a music sheet. Amit Chaudhuri is an internationally recognised Indian English author, an academic and an acclaimed Indian classical musician. He is the winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book for A Strange and Sublime Address in 1991 and the 2002 winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award for A New World. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Manju Kapur's The Immigrant is a story about Nina. When Nina, a 30-year-old lecturer based in Delhi goes in for an arranged marriage with Ananda and relocates to Canada, she realises the changes in her life are far greater than she ever could have imagined. As certain truths about Ananda and their relationship unfold, she realises that establishing a new life will cost more than she expected and that some things can never be left behind. Manju Kapur is author of Difficult Daughters, which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for First Book. She currently lives in New Delhi and recently retired from teaching English literature at Miranda House College, University of Delhi.
The Immigrant is her fourth novel.

Neel Mukherjee's A Life Apart is set in India during the 1970s and 1980s, in England in the 1990s and in Raj Bengal in the 1900s. An award-winning first novel, A Life Apart, from one of India's most acclaimed new writers is about dislocation and
alienation, outsiders and losers, the tenuous and unconscious intersections of lives and histories, and the consolations of
storytelling. Unsentimental yet full of compassion, and written with unrelenting honesty, this scalding debut marks a new
turning point in writing from and of the Subcontinent. This is Kolkota-born Neel's first novel. He divides his time between London and the USA.

Longlisted authors, publishers, London's literati and ambassadors from the South Asian region were present on the occasion, which was also the finale of the 2010 DSC South Asian literature Festival in London.   After intense deliberation over the longlist comprising 16 books, the eminent July chaired by Nilanjana Roy along with literary figures Lord Matthew Evans, Ian Jack, Amitava Kumar and Moni Mohsin selected the shortlist for the major new award.

The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature has a prize value of US $ 50,000 for the best writing about the South Asian region.
Thanking the Jury, Manhad Narula, Director, DSC Limited said: "Shortlisting six books from 16 can never be an easy task especially if all 16 authors are powerhouses of literary talent. The jury for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature must be applauded for executing this responsibility and narrowing the nominations to the most deserving six." The winner of the first DSC Prize for South Asian Literature will be declared at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival in January 2011.

The prize will be awarded for the best work of fiction pertaining to the South Asian region, published in English, including translations into English.

H S Rao in London
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