It was good news on Independence Day for Indian literature. India-born author Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss was named as one of the 19 works of fiction long-listed for this year’s prestigious Man Booker prize.
Critics said the choice is a reflection of how the theme of displacement has become so contemporary.
Kiran had earlier written the critically-acclaimed Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard. She is the daughter of Anita Desai, the Indian writer shortlisted thrice in the 1980s for the Booker.
This makes it possibly the first time that a family member of another nominee has been on the list.
The battle for the world’s best-known literary award was initiated on Monday night when the judges unveiled a 19-strong long list for the prize of £50,000. This was preceded by a debate of six hours over the merits of 112 novels submitted this year.
This year’s list is dominated by the younger generation, most of whom aren’t household names yet.
Only three past winners — Nadine Gordimer, Peter Carey and Barry Unsworth — made it to the list. Gordimer (82) is almost certainly the oldest to make it into the count-off. She wrote her first novel, The Lying Days, in 1953, won the Booker for The Conservationist in 1974 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. She’s in competition this year with her 14th novel, Get a Life.
“It does seem to be a year for lesser-known writers. It shows that the novel is alive and well, safe in the hands of the next generation,” said a Booker jury member.