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Indian, Pakistani origin authors make cut for South Asian lit prize

LONDON

Four authors of Indian origin and two of Pakistani, whose novels bring alive a spectrum of themes and emotions relevant in contemporary South Asian life were short-listed on Thursday for the US $25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2018.

They are Jayant Kaikini for “No Presents Please” (Translated by Tejaswini Niranjana, HarperCollins India); Manu Joseph for “Miss Laila Armed And Dangerous” (HarperCollins, India); Neel Mukherjee for “A State Of Freedom” (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, UK and Penguin Random House, India) and Sujit Saraf for “Harilal & Sons” (Speaking Tiger, India) from the Indian side.

Besides, Mohsin Hamid for “Exit West” (Riverhead Books, USA and Penguin Random House, India) and Kamila Shamsie for “Home Fire” (Riverhead Books, USA and Bloomsbury, UK) from the Pakistani side.

Several acclaimed writers, including Arundhati Roy, Jeet Thayil, Anuradha Roy and Perumal Murugan, who were earlier longlisted for the prize among the 88 submissions from major English publishing markets in India, the US, UK, Canada and Australia, among others — failed to make the cut.

The shortlist, unveiled by Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Chair of the jury panel, at the London School of Economics & Political Science, includes a translated book where the original writing was in Kannada.

“Being the chair of the jury of the DSC Prize has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I say this for two reasons. One is the sheer intellectual excitement of reading, evaluating and discussing these works of fiction.

“The other is the interactions I had with my four colleagues on the jury. I know I learnt an enormous amount from all of them and for this I am profoundly grateful to all of them.

“Evaluating these books reminded me once again of the importance of reading in human lives,” said Mukherjee, Professor of History and the Chancellor of Ashoka University and an internationally acclaimed historian of the revolt of 1857 in India.

Administered by the South Asian Literature Prize and Events Trust, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature has helped to raise the profile of South Asian writing around the world by rewarding authors who write on the region.

Its co-founder Surina Narula asserted that the shortlist represents “the very best of South Asian fiction writing”, and “the depth, creativity and unique narrative of each of these novels” is “impressive and inspirational”.

The prize received close to a quarter of its submissions from publishers based beyond South Asia which highlighted the growing interest of publishers and authors across the world in South Asian writing.

The prize is open to authors of any ethnicity or nationality as long as the writing is about South Asia and its people.

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