Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Sunday Post

A rojak* of items that caught my eye this week…

Shortlist Announced For DSC Prize
The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature awards an annual prize of US $50,000 for the best work in fiction to one author from any ethnicity or nationality provided they write about South Asia and its people. It encourages writing in regional languages, and thus promotes regional writers who often struggle to gain visibility on an international stage – notably the prize money is equally shared between the author and the translator if a translated entry wins. The DSC Prize is the only literary prize both solely focussed on South Asian Literature, and encouraging writing in regional languages.

On Thursday, the shortlist for the 2016 award was announced in London, at the London School of Economics and Political Science. It comprises:
Akhil Sharma: Family Life (Faber & Faber, UK)
Anuradha Roy: Sleeping on Jupiter (Hachette, India)
K.R. Meera: Hang Woman (Translated from Malayalam by J Devika; Penguin, India)
Mirza Waheed: The Book of Gold Leaves (Viking/Penguin India)
Neel Mukherjee: The Lives of Others (Vintage/Penguin Random House, UK)
Raj Kamal Jha: She Will Build Him A City (Bloomsbury, India)

This year’s shortlist was drawn up by an international five member jury panel comprised of Chair, Mark Tully, the India-born, UK-based journalist who held the position of Chief of Bureau, BBC, Delhi for 20 years; Dennis Walder, Emeritus Professor of Literature at the Open University, UK; Karen Allman, a book seller and literary coordinator based in Seattle, USA; Neloufer de Mel, Senior Professor of English at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka; and Syed Manzoorul Islam, the Bangladeshi writer, translator, critic and academic.

Mark Tully said that in whittling the entries down to the shortlist: “We have had to make difficult decisions because all the books on the very varied long-list could qualify for the shortlist. Our final list still reflects the variety and vigour of South Asian fiction writing and writing about South Asia. One of the most striking features of the list is the quality of writing. The novels are also remarkable for their realism and for the way they convey atmosphere. I am particularly glad that a translation from a South Asian language into English is included in the shortlist”.

The translation in question is K.R. Meera’s Hang Woman, translated from Malayalam by J Devika – is it grudging to suggest that having only one translation on this shortlist is perhaps a bit disappointing?

In any case, the winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016 will be announced at the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka, on 16th January.

Quick Notice: Fall Winter Collections by Koral Dasgupta

About the book: Sticking with the South Asian theme – and another novel written in English -  Fall Winter Collections takes the reader on an arm-chair tour of the ever-beautiful, eternally serene landscape of Santiniketan. Aniruddh Jain Solanki, a sculptor, is secretly working upon his most ambitious project amidst the peace of his secluded sanctuary in Santiniketan. Sanghamitra Banerjee, a professor, lives imprisoned within the ghosts of an incomplete past. And when they come together in the land of Tagore, they reveal to each other more than they had ever planned, in this debut novel of romance and relationships.

About the author: Before turning to fiction, Koral Dasgupta wrote Power of a Common Man, about Shah Rukh Khan. She lives in Mumbai.

Details: Fall Winter Collections is published in paperback by Niyogi Books, priced in Rupee.  It is available from Amazon India.

Lion City Quick Notes: Swag
Asian Books Blog is based in Singapore. We have a regular slot, Lion City Lit, for what’s happening here, lit-wise, and occasionally include City-specific Quick Notes in The Sunday Post – today news of Swag, a new online magazine about the literary scene here.

Swag’s much-needed Events Calendar of literary listings is now live, and it is packed with information about workshops, book launches, reading groups, submissions deadlines, and everything a Singapore-based writer could need. 

The first edition of Swag’s quarterly online edition is coming in January 2016. Jo Furniss, the editor, will soon be providing a guest post for Lion City Lit, so keep an eye-out for that.

Twitter Spot 
Each week I make a suggestion of an interesting Twitter account you may like to follow.  Last week I recommended author William Dalrymple’s account: @DalrympleWill

As a result of that recommendation, I came across an account, @WhiteMughalsFan, devoted to one of Dalrymple’s books, White Mughals.  It is in itself an interesting account, with lots of tweets about India, and it is this week’s pick for the Twitter Spot.

Whoever tweets at White Mughals Fan describes him-or-herself as “a huge fan of the history book White Mughals by William Dalrymple, about the true story of Colonel James Achilles Kirkpatrick and Khair-un-Nissa Begum.”  This raises the obvious question: who is White Mughal’s Fan?

It also set me thinking: if you were to open a Twitter account, devoted to urging others to read one book, what would that book be?  Do let me know, either via Twitter, @asianbooksblog, or via email,  I’ll post responses in The Sunday Post next week.

As for myself, and disregarding setting up a Twitter account for my own novel, Olivia & Sophia, I think, at the moment, with the world as it actually is, I’d probably set up a Twitter account for Submission, by Michel Houellebecq, a satire imagining Islamists - or, at least, conservative Muslims - managing to win an election in France. I’ve just read it, and I urge everybody else to read it too, as a minor, and impotent, political act…(Unfortunately, you know in advance the loony goons who need to read it, won’t…but, as we say in Singapore: what to do?)

*A rojak is a Singaporean salad. Like Asian Books Blog on Facebook, or follow it on Twitter.