Sixteen authors, including Atiq Rahimi, Kishwar Desai and Manu Joseph, are in the race for the DSC Prize for the South Asian Literature 2012, which seeks to showcase the diverse ethnicity, culture and human stories from the region.
The long-list, which was unveiled in the capital Wednesday, comprises original works of fiction in English and those translated from other languages that are set in south Asia and feature a south Asian cast.
The prize carries a purse of $50,000 (Rs.23.8 lakh).
The shortlist will be announced Oct 24 in London and the winner will be announced January 2012.
"We selected the long-list from a list of 52 books. And we were given barely three months to plod through the books. Each member of the jury of five recommended three favourites. We read almost round-the-clock," author Ira Pande, chairperson of the jury, said.
According to Manhad Narula of the prize sponsor DSC Limited, the jury comprises scholars from US, Britain and South Asia.
It has on board former Booker Prize jury member and Commonwealth and post-colonial literary scholar Alastair Niven, Pakistan-based writer, columnist and literary agent Faiza S. Khan, and professor of English at Dhaka University Fakrul Alam, among others.
"What is striking is that the submissions had a very good mix of rural and urban life -- a characteristic which distinguishes South Asia from other regions," Pande told IANS.
"It also had very good mix of genres with translations, a classical novel and even two detective fictions. Translations are very important to the growth of South Asia literature because it increases our visual and literary vocabulary," she added.
The books vying for the prize include "Jimmy, the Terrorist" by Omair Ahmed, "Bharatipura" by U.R. Ananthamurthy (translated from Malayalam), "A Street in Srinagar" by Chandrakanta (translated from Hindi), "Day Scholar" by Siddhartha Chowdhury and "Witness the Night" by Kishwar Desai.
Also under consideration are "Aftertaste" by Namita Devidayal, "One Amazing Thing" by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, "Serious Men" by Manu Joseph, "Monkey Man" by Usha K.R., "Chinaman" by Shehan Karunatilaka, "The Thing About Thugs" by Tabish Khair, "The Story that Must Not be Told" by Kavery Nambisan, "The Patience Stone" by Atiq Rahimi (translated from Pushtu), "The Quarantine Papers" by Kalpish Ratna and "Buddha`s Orphan" by Samrat Upadhyay.