The 9th DSC Prize for South Asian Literature will be holding its award ceremony this year during the IME Nepal Literature Festival closing ceremony on 16 December.
This year’s shortlist of six books are: Half the Night is Gone by Amitabh Bagchi, 99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochai, The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay, There’s Gunpowder in the Air by Manoranjan Byapari, The City and the Sea by Raj Kamal Jha, and The Empty Room by Sadia Abbas.
DSC Prize is now in its ninth year, and is one of the most prestigious international literary awards specifically focused on South Asian fiction writing. Among the six shortlisted, four are authors of Indian origin and one writer each is originally from Pakistan and Afghan. It includes three debut novelists including two women writers, as well as a work of translation of a novel originally written in Bengali.
The Prize was founded by Surina Narula and Manhad Narula in 2010, and is administered by the South Asian Literature Prize & Events Trust. It received 90 eligible entries this year. This year’s international jury panel includes Harish Trivedi (Jury Chair) former Professor of English, Jeremy Tambling, former Professor of Literature, Kunda Dixit, Editor of the Nepali Times newspaper, Carmen Wickramagamage, Professor of English, and Rifat Munim, literary editor of the Dhaka Tribune.
Said jury chair Harish Trivedi: “Three of the shortlisted writers live in South Asia and three live abroad — which may not come as a complete surprise. There is now a South Asia beyond South Asia.”
Last year’s winner was No Presents Please: Mumbai Stories written in Kannada by Jayant Kaikini and translated into English by Tejaswini Niranjana. Earlier winners of the DSC Prize include: Past winners of the DSC South Asian include: H M Naqvi from Pakistan, Shehan Karunatilaka from Sri Lanka, Jeet Thayil and Cyrus Mistry from India, American Jhumpa Lahiri, Anuradha Roy from India and Sri Lankan author Anuk Arudpragasam.
Previous award ceremonies have rotated between the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka in 2016, the Dhaka Lit Fest in Bangladesh in 2017, and the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary meet last year India. Administered by the South Asian Literature Prize and Events Trust, this award’s mission is focused on raising the profile of writing around the world by rewarding authors who write about the South Asian region with a purse of $25,000 and is available to writers of any ethnicity or nationality as long as the work pertains to the region in content and theme.
“The prize and the Nepal Literature Festival share a common vision to promote and highlight South Asian literature, and there’s a rich literary landscape in Nepal which I hope will benefit from this partnership,” said Sunita Narula. “There’s a significant amount of writing emanating from and about the South Asian region that needs to be showcased and presented to a larger global readership.”
Half the Night is Gone by Amitabha Bagchi delves into modern society as it grapples with religion and art. 99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochai is a coming-of-age story about a boy’s journey across Afghanistan in search of his family dog. The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay looks are prejudice in India with special focus on Kashmir. It has already won the JCB Prize for Literature. There’s Gunpowder in the Air by Manoranjan Byapari is translated from the Bengali original by Arunava Sinha and looks at the Naxalite movement of the 1960s. The City and the Sea by Raj Kamal Jha uses the 2012 rape tragedy in New Delhi for a transcontinental journey to look at how people do unimaginable things. The Empty Room by Sadia Abbas portrays the struggle of a Karachi woman for creative expression.
The Nepal Literature Festival was started 9 years ago and has hosted noted Nepali and South Asian writers. Said festival director Ajit Baral: “The DSC Award fits in well with our goal of turning the Nepal Literature Festival into a neutral South Asian forum for writers, artists, public intellectuals and politicians of the region to come together and discuss issues, some of which may be off-limits in other parts of the region.”