Novel set in Kashmir among 15 books in DSC prize list

Madhuri Vijay. Photo credit: Lifthub

Bengaluru-born Madhuri Vijay's debut novel 'The Far Field' set in the troubled Jammu and Kashmir is among the long list for USD 25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which also included novels by Fatima Bhutto, Perumal Murugan and Manoranjan Byapari.

The long list of 15 novels was announced by a five-member jury here and it comprised of three translated works from Malayalam, Tamil and Bengali, seven women authors and seven debut novelists, which the jury felt highlighted the "growing diversity and the power of new writing in the South Asian literary landscape".

The DSC Prize is administered by the South Asian Literature Prize and Events Trust. The long list was chosen from 90 entries from 42 publishers and 55 imprints across the globe.

Madhuri, who is born and raised in Bangalore, is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and her debut novel "masterfully examines Indian politics, class prejudice, and sexuality through the lens of an outsider, offering a profound meditation on grief, guilt, and the limits of compassion".

Her novel deals with the life of Shalini, a privileged and restless young woman from Bangalore, who sets out for a remote Himalayan village in the troubled northern region of Kashmir after her mother's death. Shalini believes her mother's death is somehow connected to the decade-old disappearance of Bashir Ahmed, a Kashmiri salesman who frequented her childhood home. The protagonist is brought face to face with Kashmir’s politics, as well as the tangled history of the local family that takes her in.

Besides Madhuri's novel, the others which found its place in the list included Bhutto's The Runaways, Perumal Murugan's A Loney Harvest (in translation) and Manoranjan Byapari's There's Gun Powder in the Air (translation).

Indian Express Chief Editor Rajkamal Jha's The City and the Sea, T D Ramakrishnan's Sugandhi alias Andal Devanayaki (translation), Aki Kumaraswamy's Half Gods, Amitabha Bagchi's Half the Night is Gone, Mira Waheed's Tell Her Everything and Devi S Laskar's The Atlas of Red and Blues also find a place in the long list.

Others in the long list are Jamil Jan Kochai's 99 Nights in Logar, Nadeem Zaman's In the Time of the Others, Sadia Abbas' The Empty Room, Shubhangi Swarup's Latitudes of Longing, Tova Reich's Mother India.

Jury Chairman Harish Trivedi, said, "Some of the novels we read narrated the nation. Some others explored individual subjectivities and yet aligned them to a broader social and political reality. Some grabbed us by the throat not so much for what they were saying but for how they said it. Many were set in multiple time-spans and international locations."

The jury will now further evaluate the long-listed entries and a shortlist of five-six books for the DSC Prize 2019 will be announced on November 6 at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in London.

The final winner would be announced at the IME Nepal Literature Festival in Pokhara in Nepal on December 16. 

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