We are happy to announce the shortlist of 11 books for the The Hindu Best Fiction Award 2010. There was a tremendous response and we thank all the publishers who sent in books (published between June 2009 and June 2010) for consideration. We thank our judges for their efforts and whole-hearted support for this venture. The winner of The Hindu Best Fiction Award will be announced at a special literary evening on November 1 in Chennai.
Eunuch Park, Palash Krishna Mehrotra, Penguin India, 2009, p.183, Rs. 250.
The Pleasure Seekers, Tishani Doshi, Bloomsbury, 2010, p.314, Rs. 499.
Venus Crossing, Kalpana Swaminathan, Penguin India, 2009, p.244, Rs.275.
Come, Before Evening Falls, Manjul Bajaj, Hachete, 2009, p.238, Rs. 295.
Saraswati Park, Anjali Joseph, HarperCollins, 2010, p.261, Rs.399.
Serious Men, Manu Joseph, Fourth Estate, 2010, p.326, Rs. 499.
If I Could Tell You, Soumya Bhattacharya, Tranquebar Press, 2009, p.200, Rs. 350.
The Thing About Thugs, Tabish Khair, Fourth Estate, 2010, p.244, Rs. 399.
The To-Let House, Daisy Hasan, Tara Books, 2010, p.227, Rs. 275.
Way to Go, Upamanyu Chatterjee, Hamish Hamilton, 2010, p.359, Rs.499.
Neti, Neti, Anjum Hasan, India Ink, 2009, p.287, Rs.295.
What the Judges say…
Reading the books, I was looking for freshness, the power and depth of words, strong motivation and content. Readability was important, so was the way a story went. Both veterans and newcomers rose admirably to the challenge. Of course, my list was slightly altered with the group verdict, which is a solid outcome reflecting well the prevailing vitality of the Indian literary scenario. The entry of The Hindu's LR promises a shiver of new excitement.
Shreekumar Varma, Novelist
I was essentially looking for a story that grabbed me forcefully and refused to let me go, a story that forced me to invest in it or got me curious about its controlling idea. The pressure of time means that the narrative hook on offer has to be strong. For a book to make it to the list though, it has to fascinate - page by page, all the way. It has to make you want to inhabit its pages, savouring what it doesn't say.
K. Srilata, Fiction Writer, Poet and Academic
In picking the short-list one looks for a variety of components — such as originality, language, narrative, plot — and, importantly, how these various elements come together in the finished text. In a sense, it's the confidence displayed by the writer that eventually makes the novel work, or not — for example, literary flourishes used merely to embellish the prose have a negative effect and make the work feel too mannered; by contrast writers who play with language to make it their own can lift even a well-worn plot into something unusual.
Parvathi Nayar, Artist and Critic
Excavating the material and that which would make the shortlist was like being a literary archaeologist at a dig where you know there were treasures waiting to be discovered but had to go through a lot of layers before reaching them. Having said that the shortlist finalised was an exercise in putting out all the best pieces and admiring each one on its own for its beauty and its relevance today. I sincerely hope this prize will allow improving standards to get even better in Indian writing in English.
Ranvir Shah, Founder, Prakriti Foundation, Chennai
Keywords: The Hindu Best Fiction Award 2010