The jury members talk about the process and the criteria used to make the selection to the shortlist…
The Hindu had received 129 submissions in response to their advertisement, all apparently published during the period covered by the prize, of which they had found three to be invalid. Thus, the initial long list had 126 books; later we considered one more book invalid and we began with 125 books in all.
Initially, each one of us had to read at least 25 books, so that among us we could cover the whole long list. Naturally there were duplications, so, even to begin with, we chose to read more than 25 books each. Meanwhile, we were also conversing within the whole group, each of us suggesting to the others some book they might not have read that was worthy of consideration. Each of us, therefore, kept getting additional books during the process. Finally, we came up with a shortlist each, with justifications for every entry.
While comparing notes and shortlists, we were struck by the astonishing consensus we had almost reached without seeing one another's lists. There were three books that were common to all the lists and the other four were there in at least three lists. Of course, every judge also had a book or two which she or he would have included but which did not get the support of most of the other judges. Such books were left out from the common shortlist. Each judge also had his or her own criteria of selection — wit and wisdom of craftspersonship, spontaneity, novelty, irony, poignancy, elegance, relevance etc — so that the final shortlist contains a variety of highly accomplished but dissimilar books. It is a first of its kind that a shortlist for an English-language prize contains three translations.