Cyrus Mistry wins the 2014 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

Mistry's Chronicles of a Corpse Bearer surveys the Parsi corpse-bearers in Bombay through an engaging story

Cordelia Jenkins, Somak Ghoshal
Updated19 Jan 2014, 12:17 PM IST
&#8216;Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer&#8217; derives from a true story of the son of a Parsi priest who falls in love with the daughter of a corpse bearer, a community segregated and shunned by society.<br />
&#8216;Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer&#8217; derives from a true story of the son of a Parsi priest who falls in love with the daughter of a corpse bearer, a community segregated and shunned by society.

Jaipur: Cyrus Mistry’s Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer, published by Aleph Book Company in 2012, won the 2014 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, perhaps the most prestigious award given to a full-length work of fiction in English (or in translation into English) featuring a South Asian theme.

Mistry’s oddly disturbing novel surveys the barely noticed community of Parsi corpse-bearers in Bombay (now Mumbai) through an engaging story. The reclusive author, who moved from Mumbai to Kodaikanal to focus on his writing, has not been in the best of health for a while.

“I would like to dedicate this award to my sister Phiroza, who is in the US. She has always believed in me,” said Mistry. “It took four years to write but that’s because I am a family man and I have a lot of other responsibilities.”

Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer derives from a true story of the son of a Parsi priest who falls in love with the daughter of a corpse bearer, a community segregated and shunned by society. “I am a Parsi and I have great respect for the religion,” Mistry said. “I don’t think my novel is antagonistic towards the Parsi religion.”

The five-member jury of this year—writer, translator and academic Arshia Sattar; managing director of Oxford University Press Ameena Saiyid, Pakistan; British journalist Rosie Boycott; American bookseller Paul Yamazaki; and critic and editor Antara Dev Sen, the chair—has chosen two exceptional works in translation for the shortlist.

Among the entries shortlisted last November at the London School of Economics were two works in translation from Malayalam and four novels in English.

“We received 65 nominations,” said Dev Sen. “The shortlist offers the heart of South Asia in all its diversity. Curiously almost all of these books are about violence, almost all examine otherness due to migration, terrorism or loss.”

John Ralston Saul, author and President of PEN International said, “All of us know that there is a crisis out there because there aren’t enough translations. Many people are writing in languages where they don’t have access to translation and that is a problem for freedom of expression.”

Instituted in 2010, the $50,000 prize is not limited by geography or ethnicity—though short-story collections are not eligible. A book by any author focusing on the culture, politics, history, and the people of South Asia—defined as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives, Myanmar and Afghanistan—may be entered for the prize.

However, since it was established in 2011, the winners have all been English-language writers. Beginning with H.M. Naqvi (Home Boy, 2011), the list includes Shehan Karunatilaka (Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew, 2012) and Jeet Thayil (Narcopolis, 2013).

This year’s shortlist included The Book of Destruction by Anand, translated from the Malayalam by Chetana Sachidanandan. It is a dense and difficult philosophical novel about violence. Goat Days by Benyamin, a slim novel translated from the Malayalam, by Joseph Koyippally, chronicles the trials of migrant workers in Dubai (it was also longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2012).

Among the novels in English, Nayomi Munaweera’s Island of a Thousand Mirrors tells a wrenching story of a Sri Lankan family forced to migrate to the US. It was longlisted for the Man Asian award and won the 2013 Regional Prize-Asia of the Commonwealth Writers Prize.

Nadeem Aslam’s The Blind Man’s Garden, set in the months following 9/11, tells the story of two brothers from a small city in Pakistan who smuggle themselves across the border into Afghanistan to help care for wounded civilians.

Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia charts the story of a young boy who rises from a poor background to running a bottled water empire. Employing the tone of a self help book, the novel examines the opportunities and pitfalls involved in getting rich quick.

Catch all the Politics News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.

MoreLess
First Published:19 Jan 2014, 12:17 PM IST
HomePoliticsPolicyCyrus Mistry wins the 2014 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

Get Instant Loan up to ₹10 Lakh!

  • Employment Type

    Most Active Stocks

    Bharat Electronics

    301.50
    03:56 PM | 23 JUL 2024
    -11.1 (-3.55%)

    Tata Steel

    160.05
    03:58 PM | 23 JUL 2024
    -0.3 (-0.19%)

    Tata Power

    416.35
    03:58 PM | 23 JUL 2024
    -7.9 (-1.86%)

    NTPC

    382.35
    03:58 PM | 23 JUL 2024
    8.8 (2.36%)
    More Active Stocks

    Market Snapshot

    • Top Gainers
    • Top Losers
    • 52 Week High

    Network 18 Media & Investments

    85.30
    03:59 PM | 23 JUL 2024
    7.2 (9.22%)

    Asahi India Glass

    699.50
    03:29 PM | 23 JUL 2024
    55.15 (8.56%)

    CE Info Systems

    2,455.50
    03:59 PM | 23 JUL 2024
    193.45 (8.55%)

    Borosil Renewables

    518.25
    03:49 PM | 23 JUL 2024
    39.35 (8.22%)
    More from Top Gainers

    Recommended For You

      More Recommendations

      Gold Prices

      • 24K
      • 22K
      Bangalore
      75,195.00-315.00
      Chennai
      75,122.00-535.00
      Delhi
      75,048.00-169.00
      Kolkata
      75,561.00417.00

      Fuel Price

      • Petrol
      • Diesel
      Bangalore
      102.86/L0.00
      Chennai
      100.75/L-0.23
      Kolkata
      104.95/L0.00
      New Delhi
      94.72/L0.00
      OPEN IN APP
      HomeMarketsPremiumInstant LoanBudget