The longlist for the award with the second-highest prize money for literature after the Man Booker Prize—the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature—was announced in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The $50,000 (around Rs 22.85 lakh) prize will be announced at the next edition of the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival in January. The prize money for the award, which is instituted by the leading infrastructure firm DSC, is close on the heels of the prestigious Man Booker Prize for Fiction, which gives £50,000 (around Rs 35.6 lakh) to a writer every year. It surpasses the Orange Prize for Fiction, which celebrates excellence in women’s writing from around the world with a £30,000 award.
The jury for the first edition of the prize comprises several internationally acclaimed literary figures such as Lord Matthew Evans, Ian Jack, Amitava Kumar and Moni Mohsin. It is chaired by literary critic Nilanjana S. Roy. The prize is also guided by an advisory committee comprising M.J. Akbar, Urvashi Butalia, Tina Brown and William Dalrymple, among others.
The 14 longlisted entries include a mix of writers who are expected to dominate the literary scene of South Asia in the years to come. Addressing the audience at the longlist announcement, Surina Narula of DSC, a Member of the Order of the British Empire, said the organizers were taken aback by the overwhelming response to their call for entries. The prize is one of DSC’s three literary CSR initiatives: the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and a new DSC South Asian Literature Festival that starts next month in the UK. The shortlist of five books will be announced at this London event on 25 October.
The prize is unique in the sense that it opens up the category of South Asian fiction to authors regardless of their nationality, creating an interesting way of reading fiction from the region. As jury chair Roy said, what made the DSC Prize unique was this recognition of the geographic and emotional distances that South Asian fiction has spanned in the last few decades.
Any work of original fiction pertaining to the South Asian region published between 1 April 2009 and 31 March in English, or translated into English, is eligible for the prize. The award will recognize writers of any ethnicity writing about South Asia and its diasporas.
Addressing queries at the longlist announcement, the organizers said that they would be open to introducing more categories—such as non-fiction—in the future.
The 14 longlisted books are:
Upamanyu Chatterjee: Way to Go (Penguin)
Amit Chaudhuri: The Immortals (Picador India)
Chandrahas Choudhury: Arzee the Dwarf (HarperCollins)
Musharraf Ali Farooqi: The Story of a Widow (Picador India)
Ru Freeman: A Disobedient Girl (Penguin/Viking)
Anjum Hasan: Neti Neti (IndiaInk/Roli Books)
Tania James: Atlas of Unknowns (Pocket Books)
Manju Kapur: The Immigrant (Faber & Faber)
H.M. Naqvi: Home Boy (HarperCollins)
Salma: The Hour Past Midnight (Zubaan, translated by Lakshmi Holmstrom)
Sankar:The Middleman (Penguin, translated by Arunava Sinha)
Ali Sethi: The Wish Maker (Penguin)
Jaspreet Singh: Chef (Bloomsbury)
Aatish Taseer: The Temple-Goers (Picador India)
For details, log on to www.dscprize.com