Shortlist for the US$25,000 DSC Prize announced
Two Pakistani and four Indian writers are in the running for the US$25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2018Updated: Nov 15, 2018 19:01 IST
The shortlist for the US $25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2018 was unveiled at the London School of Economics & Political Science on 14 November. The shortlist of six novels was announced today by Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Chair of the DSC Prize 2018 jury panel. The other four jury members include Claire Armitstead, Nandana Sen, Firdous Azim and Tissa Jayatilaka.
The six shortlisted entries that will contend for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2018 are:
Jayant Kaikini’s No Presents Please (Translated by Tejaswini Niranjana, Harper Perennial, HarperCollins India), Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire (Riverhead Books, USA and Bloomsbury, UK), Manu Joseph’s Miss Laila Armed And Dangerous (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, India), Neel Mukherjee’s A State Of Freedom (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, UK and Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House, India), and Sujit Saraf’s Harilal & Sons (Speaking Tiger, India).
No Presents Please; Mumbai Stories by Jayant Kaikini, Translated by Tejaswini Niranjana
No Presents Please: Mumbai Stories is not about what Mumbai is, but what it enables. Here is a city where two young people decide to elope and then start nursing dreams of different futures, where film posters start talking to each other, where epiphanies are found in keychains and thermos-flasks. From Irani cafes to chawls, old cinema houses to reform homes, Jayant Kaikini seeks out and illuminates moments of existential anxiety and of tenderness. In these sixteen stories, cracks in the curtains of the ordinary open up to possibilities that might not have existed, but for this city where the surreal meets the everyday.
Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire (Riverhead Books, USA and Bloomsbury, UK)
Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London – or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew.
Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London worlds away from theirs. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love?
A contemporary reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone, Home Fire is an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide – confirming Kamila Shamsie as a master storyteller of our times.
Manu Joseph’s Miss Laila Armed And Dangerous (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, India)
A building collapses in Mumbai. In he debris is a man who is mumbling something in delirium. It appears that he is passing on the real-time movements of a young Muslim couple. Elsewhere, a young intelligence agent is assigned to shadow two terror suspects, one of whom is a teenager and the sweetheart of her street, Laila. Taking up a slice of recent history, the novel glares at the entire system – not just politicians, the bureaucracy, the police and lackeys, but also the good folks. Pervasive in its satire, wicked in its humour and broad-based in its canvas, Miss Laila, Armed and Dangerous is one of the most stylish and honest works of fiction about India ever written.
Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (Riverhead Books, USA and Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House, India)
In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, two young people notice one another They share a cup of coffee, a smile, an evening meal. They try not to hear the sound of bombs getting closer every night, the radio announcing new laws, the public executions. Meanwhile, rumours are spreading of strange black doors in secret places across the city, doors that lead to London or San Francisco, Greece or Dubai. Someday soon, the time will come for this young couple to seek out one such door: joining the multitudes fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world. From the Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist comes a journey crossing borders and continents, into a possible future. Exit West is a love story from the eye of the storm. It is a song of hope and compassion. It reaches towards something essential in humankind - something still alive, still breathing, an open hand and a thudding heart under all the rubble and dust.
Neel Mukherjee’s A State Of Freedom (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, UK and Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House, India)
What happens when one attempts to exchange the life one is given for something better? Can we transform the possibilities we are born into? A State of Freedom prises open the central, defining events of our century-displacement and migration-but not as you imagine them. Five characters, in very different circumstances-from a domestic cook in Mumbai to a vagrant and his dancing bear, and a girl who escapes terror in her home village for a new life in the city-find out the meanings of dislocation, and the desire for more. Moving between the reality of this world and the shadow of another, this novel of multiple narratives-formally daring, fierce but full of pitydelivers a devastating and haunting exploration of the unquenchable human urge to strive for a different life.
Sujit Saraf’s Harilal & Sons (Speaking Tiger, India)
It is the year 1899. In the northwestern corner of British India, the Chhappaniya famine stalks the desert region of Shekhavati. A despairing shopkeeper turns to his young son and says, ‘This land has nothing to offer us but sand dunes and khejra bushes.’ Soon after, twelve-year-old Harilal Tibrewal, recently married to eleven-year-old Parmeshwari, sets off, alone, for the densely populated plains of Bengal in eastern India— travelling on camelback and by bus, train and boat to arrive in Calcutta, two thousand kilometres away… In his new novel, Sujit Saraf takes readers on an epic journey from Shekhavati in Rajasthan to the Calcutta of the early twentieth century, to Bogra in East Bengal, and to a village in Bihar in newly independent India. A sprawling, compulsively readable narrative, it follows the story of Harilal as he sets up Harilal & Sons, a shop selling jute, cotton, spices, rice, cigarettes and soap, that grows into a large enterprise. It is also the sweeping tale of his two wives and ever-burgeoning family of sons, daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren—the two strands of family and business inextricably fused because a Marwari’s life is defined by what he ‘deals in’. The novel ends in 1972, as eighty-five-year-old Hari lies dying in the great mansion that he built but never actually lived in. Surrounded by his vast family he wonders why he is still so attached to them. Why has he not reached the third stage in life, the stage of detachment, that his schoolmaster had said he would? Spanning seven decades of an era that saw great tumult in India and Bangladesh, Harilal & Sons is a wonderfully evocative, powerful and capacious narrative—overflowing with a profusion of characters, events and places—contained within the singular life of one man who ‘dealt in jute and grain’.
The winner will be announced at the award ceremony to be held at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet to be held between January22-27, 2019.
First Published: Nov 15, 2018 18:58 IST