Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri picked up the $50,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Wednesday, as the sponsor announced the fifth edition of the award would also be its last.
Lahiri won for her second novel, The Lowland, which also made it to the 2013 Man Booker Prize shortlist, losing out to Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries.
“I’m in Rome and I am sorry that I can’t be there tonight,” said the writer, speaking to compere Dalip Tahil over the phone, as her publisher collected the award. “It’s a great honour.”
The prize instituted in 2010 is open to authors of any ethnicity or nationality as long as the writing is about the South Asian region.
The jury headed by Sahitya Akademi Award winner Keki N Daruwalla received more than 75 entries of which five made it to the shortlist.
Writers Esther David, Keki Daruwalla, Amish Tripathi, Alberto Minguael, Ambi Rameswaran, Rajiv Malhotra and Arshi Sattar at a session on Maters Of Faith. Photo by Mohd Zakir / Hindustan Times
Bilal Tanweer and Kamila Shamsie from Pakistan, Romesh Gunesekera from Sri Lanka as well as Shamsur Rahman Faruqi from India were also in the running for the prize and they read extracts from their novels to thunderous applause from a full house.
“The Lowland is a novel about the difficulty of love in complex personal and societal circumstances, inhabited by characters which are finely drawn and where the lowland itself is a metaphor running through their entire lives,” Daruwalla said. “This is a fine novel written by a writer at the height of her powers.”
HS Narula, chairman of the infrastructure-focused DSC Group, announced that his company’s association with the Jaipur Literature Festival was about to undergo a makeover and the award would cease to exist.
While Narula was visibly emotional, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Vijay Seshadri, who was the chief guest at the ceremony, added a dash of humour to the proceedings.
“Both President Obama and I are chief guests in India and I think I have the better job. I am celebrating literature while he is celebrating armament,” the New York-based author said.