DSC Prize 2015 Shortlist: Meet South Asia’s Famous Five

(London, UK) – The shortlist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2015 is in, and it’s packed with some heavyweight novels!A God in Every Stone by Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie, Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri‘s The Lowland and Sri Lankan born British writer Romesh Gunesekera‘s Noontide Toll made the cut for the five-book shortlist.

Joining them in the list are Pakistani writer Bilal Tanweer‘s debut book The Scatter Here is Too Great and The Mirror of Beauty by Indian poet and critic Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, who translated it from his own Urdu novel, the modern classic Kai Chand Thay Sar-e Asman.

The winner of the $50,000 prize, which was founded in 2010, will be announced at the Jaipur Literature Festival on January 22, 2015.

The shortlist was announced on Thursday evening in a small and intimate ceremony of writers and readers at the Shaw Library at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Speaking to DWL, Surina Narula (MBE), the co-founder of the DSC Prize, said the committee for the prize recognised the niche for South Asian literature after the Jaipur Literature Festival started.

“The prize is there to give the mainstream access to South Asia,” Narula said.

DSC Prize co-founder Surina Narula speaking at the shortlist announcement ceremony. Photo courtesy of DSC Prize Facebook page.

DSC Prize co-founder Surina Narula speaking at the shortlist announcement ceremony. Photo courtesy of DSC Prize Facebook page.

Speaking later at the ceremony, Narula, who has lived in London for 20 years, said books from South Asia have helped her understand what developments in the region, be it the Tsunami or terrorism, mean for ordinary people.The idea of using books to remain connected to a South Asian identity is also a familiar theme in the group conversations of the DWL London Readers’ Club.

Previous winners of the DSC Prize, which is now in its fifth year, include HM Naqvi for Home Boy, Shehan Karunatilaka for Chinaman, Jeet Thayil for Narcopolis and Cyrus Mistry for Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer.

The prize is awarded to an original or translated English novel and is open for writers of any nationality and ethnicity as long as their writing is about South Asia and its people, according to the DSC Prize website.

Eve Smith, the Company Secretary of the Booker Prize Foundation which gives out the annual Man Booker Prize, also attended the ceremony.

Smith said the quality of these prizes comes down to the quality of the jury.

The international jury of the 2015 DSC Prize includes prolific poet Keki Daruwalla, author John Freeman, Razi Ahmed, the founding director of the Lahore Literary Festival, and Professors of English Maithree Wickramasinghe from Sri Lanka and Michael Worton from the United Kingdom.

Jury Member Razi Ahmed of the Lahore Literary Festival speaking at the DSC Shortlist Announcement Ceremony. Photo Courtesy of DSC Prize Facebook page.

Jury Member Razi Ahmed of the Lahore Literary Festival speaking at the DSC Shortlist Announcement Ceremony. Photo Courtesy of DSC Prize Facebook page.

Daruwalla, who is the Chair of the jury, spoke honestly at the ceremony about the grueling process of whittling down a short list from 75 submissions but said that all jury members remained amicable through the process.Each of the jury members announced one shortlisted book and read out their favourite lines with evident enjoyment at the event.

Gunesekera, author of the Noontide Toll, was also present at the ceremony.

“It is great to win a prize, may it win many prizes but you need to write first,” he told DWL.

Gunesekera’s words are perhaps the best advice for aspiring and emerging writers including members of the DWL community: You need to write first.

Here are the shortlisted authors again:

Bilal Tanweer

Bilal Tanweer (The Scatter Here is Too Great)

Shamsur Rahman Faruqi

Shamsur Rahman Faruqi (The Mirror of Beauty)

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland)

Romesh Gunesekera

Romesh Gunesekera (Noontide Toll)

Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie (A God in Every Stone)

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