As No Presents Please emerges as the winner from a shortlist of six to take the coveted US $25,000 DSC Prize, Jerry Pinto comments, “This is a Bombay book, a Mumbai book, a Momoi book, a Mhamai book, and it is not to be missed.” Originally written in Kannada by the noted author Jayant Kaikini and translated into English by eminent translator Tejaswini Niranjana, No Presents Please tells the story of two young people who decide to elope and then start to drift apart with their different dreams. This is a tale of the modern city where film posters start talking to each other, where epiphanies are found in key chains and thermos-flasks. From Irani cafes to chawls, old cinema houses to reform homes, Jayant Kaikini seeks out and illuminates moments of existential anxiety and of tenderness. In this book, cracks in the curtains of the ordinary open up to possibilities that might not have existed, but for this city where the surreal meets the everyday.
The DSC Prize encourages writing in regional languages and translations, and this is the first time that a translated work has won the prize. This magnificent book gives us a protagonist that is vivid yet full of contradictions, spirited yet lonely, embattled yet big-hearted – the city of Mumbai. Empathy and survival are the constant, codependent themes that unify every strand of this extraordinary book, creating a shimmering mosaic of a conflicted city that is as kind as it is, at times, cruel.
In a glittering award ceremony, the US $25,000 DSC Prize was awarded to Jayant Kaikini and Tejaswini Niranjana along with a unique trophy by eminent writer Ruskin Bond. As per the prize process, the prize money would be equally shared between the author and the translator. The world's literati including writers, publishers, media and literary enthusiasts who had gathered for the Award Ceremony at the iconic Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata, enthusiastically applauded the winner of the DSC Prize 2018.
The six shortlisted authors and books in contention for the DSC Prize this year were Jayant Kaikini: No Presents Please (Translated by Tejaswini Niranjana, Harper Perennial, HarperCollins India), Kamila Shamsie: Home Fire (Riverhead Books, USA and Bloomsbury, UK), Manu Joseph: Miss Laila Armed And Dangerous (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, India), Mohsin Hamid: Exit West (Riverhead Books, USA and Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House, India)
The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2018 was judged by a diverse and distinguished five member jury panel comprising eminent figures drawn from the international literary fraternity who have worked in or around South Asian literature and issues. This year's international jury panel included Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Jury Chair, Professor of History and the Chancellor of Ashoka University and an internationally acclaimed historian of the revolt of 1857 in India, Nandana Sen, a writer, actor and child-rights activist and author of six books, who has worked as a book editor, a poetry translator, a screenwriter, and a script doctor, Claire Armitstead, who has also been a theatre critic, arts editor and literary editor, Tissa Jayatilaka, who was the Executive Director of the United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission and is the author of several publications and has translated and edited many journals, and Firdous Azim, Professor of English at BRAC University, Bangladesh, whose research has focused on women's writings in the early twentieth century Bengal.