Indian author Neel Mukherjee wins Encore award

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: May 12, 2015 18:14 IST

Man Booker-shortlisted author Neel Mukherjee has been adjudged the winner of the 2014 Encore award worth 10,000 pounds for his book, 'The Lives of Others', which is set in Kolkata of the 1960s when Naxalite violence was at its peak.

London-based Mukherjee beat other short-listed second novels by authors including Will Wiles, Deborah Kay Davies and Amanda Coe to win the award founded by Lucy Astor in 1990 to celebrate second novels.

Alex Clark, chair of the Encore judges said: "We were immensely impressed by the ambition and depth of Neel Mukherjee's second novel, in which a suburban house in 1960s Calcutta comes to reflect the political and social convulsions of an entire society".

"Ranging from the mass hunger of the Second World War to independence and the emergence of the Maoist Naxalbari movement, Mukherjee chronicles these extraordinary years in Indian history through the piercingly observed story of one family", he said.

On being presented the award, Mukherjee said: "The Encore Award is the coolest and the most original literary prize in town. It is a burst of light in what is usually considered to be dark, damp, bleak territory -- the dreaded second novel. I'm thrilled by my good fortune and, looking at the list of past winners, both humbled and deeply honoured.'

Neel Mukherjee's first novel, 'A Life Apart', was published in 2010. 'The Lives of Others' was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and the Costa Novel Award.

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