The longlist for the USD 25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017 was announced on August 10 by feminist writer and publisher Ritu Menon, who is the chair of the jury panel for the prize. The longlist of 13 novels represents a diverse mix of established writers and debut novelists from different backgrounds and geographies — seven Indians, three Pakistanis, two Sri Lankans and an American based in India. There are three debut novels and two translations from Tamil and Malayalam.
Considering a literary prize, longlisted books are perhaps a better key to understand the changing trends in literature rather than rooting for one eventual winner, which will be announced on November 18 at Dhaka Literary Festival.
The shortlist will be out on September 27. Keeping this in mind, we have compiled some of the juicy details on the longlisted books.
SOUTH HAVEN BY HIRSH SAWHNEY
The book takes the familiar trope of a second-generation immigrant son, but upends the conventional expectations by adding layers of trauma and grief, as he learns to live in the wake of his mother’s death.
THE LIVING BY ANJALI JOSEPH
The novel intertwines two apparently disparate stories of a woman in Norwich and a man in small town Maharashtra, whose lives are mirrored through their devotion to the discipline of shoemaking.
THOSE CHILDREN BY SHAHBANO BILGRAMI
This book deals with the psychology of migrant children in the aftermath of loss, but moves in the opposite direction — from the suburbs of Chicago to their father’s native Karachi.
SELECTION DAY BY ARAVIND ADIGA
Adiga’s return to form after the Booker-winning The White Tiger is a classic drama, set in the murky world of Mumbai cricket.
THE CEASELESS CHATTER OF DEMONS BY ASHOK FERREY
Here, Sri Lankan author Ashok Ferrey wittily plays with the dualities of good and evil metaphorised through its ‘ugly’ protagonist Sonny, who lives between the worlds of Oxford, Kandy, and, according to his mother, omnipresent demons.
THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS BY KARAN MAHAJAN
The book, which was met with international acclaim and made the longlist for the National Book Award for Fiction in 2016, follows Mansoor, who witnessed the death of two friends in a Delhi marketplace bombing, as he returns years later to reconcile with the effects of that event.
THE PARTY WORKER BY OMAR SHAHID HAMID
Hamid’s third novel weaves the unshakeable influence of crime and terrorism through the disparate lives of his cast of characters and the very fabric of Karachi, where Hamid has been a member of the police’s counter-terrorism unit for over a decade.
THE STORY OF A BRIEF MARRIAGE BY ANUK ARUDPRAGASAM
This debut novel is a sparsely written account of a couple navigating the horrific, final stretch of the island’s civil war.
PYRE BY PERUMAL MURUGAN
Translated from Tamil, the novel is a study of an inter-caste marriage and its eventual repercussion. It’s a love story between Saroja and Kumaresan, who are faced with the terrifying and looming prospect of violence.
THE POISON OF LOVE BY KR MEERA
This novella, like Perumal Murugan’s book, also deals with the socio-political dynamics of choosing love, as the narrator, Tulsi, recounts the consequences of eloping with her lover days before her wedding, and how she ended up living voluntarily among the widows in Vrindavan.
THE PARCEL BY ANOSH IRANI
The novel follows a transgender sex worker in Mumbai, who is given an unexpected task.
IN THE JUNGLES OF THE NIGHT BY STEPHEN ALTER
The title borrows from William Blake, and the novel attempts to reconstruct Jim Corbett’s life as a naturalist.
THIS WIDE NIGHT BY SARVAT HASIN
Here, Hasin reinterprets the concerns of the Little Women in 1970s’ Karachi.