The Jaipur Literature Festival, January
18. Chronicle of a Corpse
Bearer emerges as the winner
from a shortlist of six to take the US$50,000 DSC Prize
Cyrus Mistry has won the 2014 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for his novel Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer. Cyrus Mistry is the second Indian to win the US $50,000 DSC Prize. His novel is a harrowing tale of star-crossed love that takes place in the little-known community of Parsi corpse-bearers in Bombay. It is a moving account of tragic love which brings to life the degradation experienced by those who inhabit the unforgiving margins of history.
The six shortlisted authors and books in contention for the DSC Prize were Anand: Book of Destruction (Translated by Chetana Sachidanandan; Penguin, India), Benyamin: Goat Days (Translated by Joseph Koyippalli; Penguin, India), Cyrus Mistry: Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer (Aleph Book Company, India), Mohsin Hamid: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, India), Nadeem Aslam: The Blind Man’s Garden (Random House, India), Nayomi Munaweera: Island of a Thousand Mirrors (Perera Hussein Publishing, Sri Lanka)
The DSC Prize Secretariat had received close to 70 entries this year with participation from publishers in South Asia, the UK, the USA, Canada and Australia amongst others. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which is specifically focused on South Asian writing, is driven neither by ethnicity nor by geography: it is open to any author belonging to any part of the globe as long as the work is based on the South Asian region and its people. The last three years have seen winners from three different countries in South Asia, reflecting the vibrancy of South Asia’s rapidly expanding book market.
The fourth edition of the DSC Prize 2014 was judged by a diverse and distinguished jury comprising eminent members from the international literary fraternity: Antara Dev Sen, editor, writer, literary critic and chair of the DSC Prize jury; Arshia Sattar, translator, writer and teacher; Ameena Saiyid, the MD of Oxford University Press in Pakistan; Rosie Boycott, British journalist and editor; Paul Yamazaki, a veteran bookseller and one of the most respected names in the book trade in the US.
On announcing the winner, Antara Dev Sen said: “Cyrus Mistry’s Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer is a deeply moving book, exquisitely drawn on a small, almost claustrophobic canvas. It takes a tiny slice of life, the life of the Khandhias or corpse bearers of the Parsi community, and weaves a powerful story about this downtrodden caste we know so little about. A fantastic storyteller, Mistry offers a beautiful novel rich in historical detail and existential angst, gently questioning the way we look at justice, custom, love, life and death.”