As the curtains come up for another edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival, the DSC Prize for South Asian Writing will also be announced at Asia’s largest gathering for book lovers. The $50,000 award will put the winner on the literary map for posterity. This year, with three Indian, two Pakistani and one Sri Lankan name in the fray,
Kanika Sharma spoke to the nominees for their take before D-Day
Nayomi Munaweera (Island Of A Thousand Mirrors)
There is absolute excitement regarding the selection of the DSC Prize. There is nervousness too for it is my first book on, which I have worked on for 10 years; I never expected it to get this much coverage, let alone be nominated for the award. Being a Sri Lankan-American, I find the prize an interesting one as it is of South Asian writing, and not writers of South Asian origin. To be in the company of writers who have been writing for decades is definitely humbling. I loved Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer by Cyrus Mistry in the list, so it’s really hard to predict the outcome.
Dr Chetana Sachidanandan (translator, The Book of Destruction by Anand)
I am happy that the Book of Destruction has been shortlisted. The book is very relevant to today’s world and I am glad that I could make it accessible to a wider readership. It is also a great encouragement for my first foray into translation.
Benyamin (Goat Days)
It is a great honour to be nominated in the shortlist, Prize, which is such a prestigious tribute to the writers. I am anticipating the verdict of jury with complete optimism. The subject of Goat Days is different; it shows a new-fangled face of expat life. Above and beyond, it is a work of abundant hope and anticipation, which is a universal subject, and is applicable to all the readers in the world.
Nadeem Aslam (The Blind Man’s Garden)
He was unavailable for comment.
Cyrus Mistry (Chronicle of A Corpse Bearer)
If my book wins, I’d be very happy. When I decided to write a novel about a very microscopic segment of the Parsi community, a sub-caste, really, that lives in complete segregation, I had hoped I could use this minimalist arena as the springboard for raising larger philosophical questions, about whether there is an overall meaning to life. If I win, it would mean that to some extent at least I have succeeded in it. Also, I would be glad if my novel was not seen as literature pertaining merely to Parsis but something more universal. The award would, of course, apart from the money, be very good for the book and get it attention. There’s too much happening in the literary world, and without such awards there’s no way of ensuring that even a good book doesn’t just sink like a stone out of public notice.
Mohsin Hamid (How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia)
When it comes to writing, I don’t view terms like South Asian as exclusive. So, I am fine with my novels being called Pakistani, South Asian, and Asian. Having spent many years in the UK and US, I am fine with my writing being characterised as American and British. It’s always an honour to be shortlisted for an award, and this one is especially meaningful because it is being awarded in my home region. It’s also a personal joy to have another Pakistani on the list — my dear friend, Nadeem Aslam.