On Wednesday, October 10, 2018, the much awaited longlist for South Asian Literature 2018 was announced by eminent historian and academic Rudrangshu Mukherjee, the chair of the jury panel for the current year for the distinguished prize. Featuring six women authors and three women translators, and two outstanding debut novels, the longlist represents the best of South Asian fiction writing over the last year. The novels include stunning portrayals of migration, war, oppression and the pain of displacement, the exploration of new found relationships and identities, and vivification of the personal struggles, hopes and aspirations that symbolize the urgent and divisive realities of contemporary South Asian life. The longlist announcement event at Oxford Bookstore in New Delhi was attended by publishers, authors and literary enthusiasts who welcomed the selection of the longlist.
The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is a relatively new venture that has been in the literary scenario only for the last eight years. The prize money alone is high enough to garner interest even though since 2017 it has been halved from $50,000 to $25,000. Founded in 2010 by Surina Narula to celebrate the varied literature of South Asian region, the prize is sponsored by DSC Limited, an infrastructure development and Engineering construction company headed by HS Narula, husband of Surina Narula. The prize aims to bring South Asian writing to a new global audience and to raise awareness of South Asian culture across the world. Another aspect to note is that the DSC Prize considers only full-length fictional words. Short story collections are not eligible for consideration.
For this year's DSC Prize, the South Asian Literature Prize & Events Trust received 88 eligible entries and for one month the five member international jury panel meticulously went through these entries to arrive at this year's longlist of 16 novels which they feel represent the best works of fiction related to the South Asian culture.
The longlisted entries contending for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2018 are as follows:
1. Anuradha Roy: All The Lives We Never Lived (Hachette, India)
2. Arundhati Roy: The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness (Alfred Knopf, USA and Hamish Hamilton, Canada)
3. Chandrakanta: The Saga Of Satisar (Translated by Ranjana Kaul, Zubaan Books, India)
4. Deepak Unnikrishnan: Temporary People (Penguin Books, Penguin Random House, India)
5. Jayant Kaikini: No Presents Please (Translated by Tejaswini Niranjana, Harper Perennial, HarperCollins India)
6. Jeet Thayil: The Book Of Chocolate Saints (Aleph Book Company, India and Faber & Faber, UK)
7. Kamila Shamsie: Home Fire (Riverhead Books, USA and Bloomsbury, UK)
8. Manu Joseph: Miss Laila Armed And Dangerous (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, India)
9. Mohsin Hamid: Exit West (Riverhead Books, USA and Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House, India)
10. Neel Mukherjee: A State Of Freedom (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, UK and Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House, India)
11. Perumal Murugan: Poonachi (Translated by N Kalyan Raman, Context, Westland Publications, India)
12. Prayaag Akbar: Leila (Simon & Schuster, India)
13. Rita Chowdhury: Chinatown Days (Translated by Rita Chowdhury, Macmillan, Pan Macmillan, India)
14. SJ Sindu: Marriage Of A Thousand Lies (Soho Press, USA)
15. Sujit Saraf: Harilal & Sons (Speaking Tiger, India)
16. Tabish Khair: Night Of Happiness (Picador, Pan Macmillan, India)
Anuk Arudpragasam of Sri Lanka won the prize last year for The Story of a Brief Marriage.
This year's jury panel is headed by 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. The jury members include 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 , Associate Editor, Culture, for the Guardian in London who has been a theatre critic, arts editor and literary editor, and Tissa Jayatilaka, who has been the Executive Director of the United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission and is the author of several publications. From Bangladesh, there is Firdous Azim, Professor of English at BRAC University, Bangladesh, whose research has focused on women's writings in the early twentieth century Bengal. It is to be noted that Syed Manzoorul Islam and Fakrul Alam from Bangladesh too has served in the DSC South Asian Literature Jury Panel in the past.
The jury is now deliberating on the longlist and the shortlist of 5 or 6 books for the DSC Prize 2018 which will be announced on 14th November, 2018 at the London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) in London. Thereafter the jury would meet once again to decide on the final winner that would be announced at a special Award Ceremony to be hosted in a South Asian city. The winner of 2017 DSC Prize was announced in Dhaka Literary Festival last year.