Announcing the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2013
Narcopolis emerges as the winner from a shortlist of six to take the US $50,000 DSC Prize
Jaipur, January 25, 2013: Third time’s a charm and it was for India as Jeet Thayil became the first Indian author to win the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2013, now in its third edition. The US $50,000 DSC Prize along with a unique trophy was given away by celebrated actor Sharmila Tagore at a ceremony attended by renowned literary figures and authors during the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival. Jeet Thayil won this prestigious prize for his debut novel Narcopolis (Faber & Faber London), a prime example of the fresh voices that the region is beginning to inspire and which the DSC Prize is helping bring to the fore.
A well known poet and now novelist, Thayil won the prize from a shortlist of six which also included Jamil Ahmad: The Wandering Falcon (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin India); Tahmima Anam: The Good Muslim (Penguin Books); Amitav Ghosh: River of Smoke (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin India); Mohammed Hanif: Our Lady of Alice Bhatti (Random House India); Uday Prakash: The Walls of Delhi (Translated by Jason Grunebaum; UWA Publishing, W. Australia).
The DSC Prize 2013 was judged by a diverse and distinguished Jury comprising of K Satchidanandan (Chair), Muneeza Shamsie, Rick Simonson, Suvani Singh and Eleanor O’Keeffe. The shortlist was announced in November 2012 in London.
There were 81 entries for the prize this year, comprising authors and translators across India, Australia, UK, US, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc, reflecting the importance of South Asia’s rapidly expanding book market. India is currently the world’s third largest English-language book market (after the USA and UK), and is set to become the largest within the next ten years (according to a BBC Report, May 2012).
Commenting on the award, K Satchidandan, the DSC Prize 2013 Jury Chair said “I am very happy about the whole process of selection for the DSC Prize, 2013. It was a pleasure to go through the 81 books, mostly novels, submitted by the publishers for the prize that offered me a peek into the life and literature of South Asia with its identity conflicts, religious fanaticisms, developmental anxieties, domestic agonies, the pains of exile, eerie underworlds, the anguish of marginalization, the traumas of modernization and globalization and the dreams of a more just and egalitarian world.”
“The novel that has won the prize, chosen after due deliberations and the filtering processes of long listing and short listing, reflects many of these issues with extreme verbal artistry and lyrical intensity and I believe, the choice enhances the credibility and the prestige of the Prize itself. Narcopolis mixes fantasy and reality to create a powerful story that deals with a less known aspect of life in a metropolis like Bombay where episodes collapse into one another as in the tales of Vikramaditya telling an interminable tale about the less fortunate and the less visible human beings of the city. I am happy for the winner and happy too for DSC that has instituted a unique prize that sets a benchmark for imaginative writing on South Asia.”, he added, speaking about the winning novel.
Manhad Narula from the DSC Prize said “Thayil’s Narcopolis made waves this past year, turning up on several shortlists and garnering glittering reviews. I extend my heartiest congratulations to Jeet for a book that has unearthed and presented a rare, unfiltered, inside view into a lesser known world that exists within South Asia. The DSC Prize 2013 upholds its vision to present the sheer variety of experiences from South Asia that inspire literary fiction. ”
Instituted by DSC Limited in 2010, the DSC Prize is awarded annually for the best work of fiction inspired by the South Asian region, people, culture and diaspora; published in English, including translations into English. The Prize is unique in not relying on author ethnicity as an eligibility criterion and is open to authors across the globe writing on the region.
The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is guided by an international Advisory Committee comprising Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Alastair Niven, Fakrul Alam, Ira Pande, Marie Brenner, William Dalrymple, David Godwin, Michael Worton and Surina Narula.
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Notes to the Editor
About The Winner of the 2013 DSC Prize For South Asian Literature
Jeet Thayil: Narcopolis (Faber and Faber, London)
Shuklaji Street, in Old Bombay. In Rashid’s opium room the air is thick and potent. Here, people say that you introduce only your worst enemy to opium. Narcopolis is a rich, chaotic, hallucinatory dream of a novel that captures the Bombay of the 1970s in all its compelling squalor. With a cast of pimps, pushers, poets, gangsters and eunuchs, it is a journey into a sprawling underworld written in electric and utterly original prose.
Jeet Thayil was born in Kerala, India in 1959 and educated in Hong Kong, New York and Bombay. He is a performance poet, songwriter and guitarist, and has published four collections of poetry. He is the editor of The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets (2008). He currently lives in New Delhi.
About DSC Limited’s Literary Initiatives
In its efforts to contribute to social growth and create social infrawealth, DSC Limited has identified the promotion of literature as a key initiative. The company firmly believes that promoting literature helps build the character of society, just as its infrastructure projects help create the infrawealth of the nation.
As a major move towards promoting literature, the company has been supporting the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival for the last five years. During this period, this event has grown to become the largest literary event of its kind in the region. As part of its vision of promoting South Asian literature, the most significant development has been the institution of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature in 2010. This unique prize, which carries an award of US $50,000, is a celebration of the rich and varied world of literature belonging to the South Asian region.
DSC Limited has also been the principal sponsor of the 2010 and 2011 editions of DSC South Asian Literature Festival in the UK.