Shehan Karunatilaka awarded the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2012


Jaipur, January 21, 2012: The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2012 was awarded to Singapore based Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka for his book Chinaman (Random House, India), a novel that explores cricket as a metaphor to uncover a lost life and a lost history. Chinaman skilfully uses sport and the notion of fair play to look at Sri Lanka in a fresh and exciting way.

Bhutan Queen mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck (right) congratulates Singapore-based Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka, for winning the DSC Prize for South Asia Literature 2012, at the Jaipur Literature Festival in Rajasthan on Saturday. Karunatilka won $50,000 for his book Chinaman, a novel that explores cricket as a metaphor to uncover a lost life and a lost history. Photo: AP

The US $50,000 DSC Prize 2012 was awarded to Shehan Karunatilaka at a memorable ceremony attended by eminent literary figures, renowned authors, members of the media fraternity and a diverse literary audience. The event took place at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival, one of the biggest literary festivals in the region. The DSC Prize along with a unique trophy was awarded to Shehan Karunatilaka by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, Queen Mother of Bhutan.

A total of six authors were part of the Shortlist for the DSC Prize 2012 from which the winner was announced. The other shortlisted authors were U.R. Ananthamurthy: Bharathipura (Oxford University Press, India, Translated by Susheela Punitha), Chandrakanta: A Street in Srinagar (Zubaan Books, India, Translated by Manisha Chaudhry), Usha K.R: Monkey-man (Penguin/Penguin India), Tabish Khair: The Thing About Thugs (Fourth Estate/HarperCollins-India), and Kavery Nambisan: The Story that Must Not Be Told (Viking/Penguin India)

The DSC Prize was judged by a distinguished Jury chaired by Ira Pande along with Dr. Alastair Niven, Dr. Fakrul Alam , Faiza S Khan and Marie Brenner. The Shortlist was announced in October 2011 at the DSC South Asian Literature Festival in UK.

Commenting on the occasion Ira Pande, Jury chairperson said “The jury unanimously chose this year’s winner. While this fact in itself is a historic one for book juries are notorious for spirited battles over lists and winners, let me add that this year’s winner is also important for several other reasons. The winning title is a brilliant narration of all that is both great and sad about South Asia and in that sense it brings a world to the reader that needs to be seen outside this region. No longer are novelists who write of violence, breakdown of communities and the old way of life able to speak the whole truth about our world.”

Speaking further about the winning book, she said, “The speech rhythms of smaller towns and indigent characters, so seldom seen and heard, are brought alive by a writer who handles character and speech with consummate ease. That world has long needed a suitable metaphor and he has discovered it: Cricket. Set in Sri Lanka, as an epic search for a lost player, Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilake is both a portrait of a lost way of life and a glimpse into the future this vast and vivid region is fated to occupy.”

Shehan Karunatilaka’s debut novel Chinaman (Random House, India) was awarded the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2012, recognizing it as the best work of fiction pertaining to the South Asian region, published in the last year in English, including translations into English.

Manhad Narula, Director DSC Limited and Founder of the DSC Prize, commented on the occasion saying, “Congratulations to Shehan Karunatilaka for a book that represents the best South Asian writing and winning the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2012. I thank the jury members who’ve had the difficult task of choosing a winner among several exceptional works submitted this year. Now in its second year running, the DSC Prize has built a strong and engaging platform for the recognition of South Asian writing. We are committed to showcasing the best writing in the region and bringing it to a larger global audience”

The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature was instituted in January 2010 to celebrate writing that highlights the South Asian region, its people, culture and diaspora. The DSC Prize, which has been envisioned as a unique and prestigious award, recognizes the literary works of authors across the globe writing on South Asia, transcending the origin or ethnicity of the author. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is one-of-its-kind in the region and aims at recognizing literary work that is redefining the understanding of South Asia across the globe. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2011 was awarded to HM Naqvi for his debut novel Home Boy (HarperCollins India). The DSC Prize is guided by an international Advisory Committee of eminent literary personalities comprising MJ Akbar, Urvashi Butalia, Tina Brown, William Dalrymple, Lord Meghnad Desai, David Godwin, Surina Narula, Senath Walter Perera, Nayantara Sehgal and Michael Worton.

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