Em and the Big Hoom is written in English as Indian vernacular

Journalist-author Jerry Pinto has bagged The Hindu Literary Prize 2012 for his novel Em and the Big Hoom. The book, published by Aleph Book Co, is Mr. Pinto’s first work of fiction and is set in Mahim, Mumbai. It revolves around how a four-member family copes with the mother’s manic depressive condition and her suicidal ideation.

The others in the final round of contention for the prestigious prize were the Man-Booker-Prize-shortlisted author Jeet Thayil for Narcopolis, Kiran Nagarkar for The Extras, Anjum Hasan for Difficult Pleasures and Easterine Kire for Bitter Wormwood. Representing the jury, activist-scholar Susie Tharu explained how difficult it was choosing just one (work) from a splendid array of riches.

Em and the Big Hoom, as a story about a young man and his mother, was as archetypal a story as one could get, and was an amazing exploration through life, an entry into the world of those who were always toppling over the edge, she said.

The novel, “written in English as Indian vernacular,” was also a rare example of someone who had worked through an experience going on to create a work of fiction to share that experience with the world.

The former chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification, Sharmila Tagore, presented the award to Mr. Pinto.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Pinto said, “Things don’t get better than this,” referring to the award being conferred in a city that had produced a great newspaper and being presented the prize by Ms. Tagore.

Mr. Pinto also made an impassioned plea to uphold and protect freedom of speech and expression in the country with its magnificent history of thinking and writing.

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