Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age depicts the city’s music scene between 1930s, 60s
Naresh Fernandes has won the 2012 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize for Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age, which gives the reader an engaging account of the city’s thriving music scene between the 1930s and 1960s.
Mr. Fernandes is also the co-author of Bombay Then and Mumbai Now, a historical narrative, and co-editor of Bombay Meri Jaan. The question of whether Taj Mahal Foxtrot could, therefore, be considered a “first book” was posed to the long-list judges — poet/author Jeet Thayil and writer/arts-consultant Sanjay Iyer — who sifted through 96 books to narrow the contest down to the final six.
The prize will be presented at the British Council Auditorium here on December 20. Last year’s winner was Jamil Ahmad’s The Wandering Falcon.
Mr. Thayil said in a note: “Bombay Meri Jaan was co-edited by Fernandes, so it doesn’t count. Bombay Then and Mumbai Now was billed as being co-authored, but Fernandes only wrote an essay. It is a coffee-table book of photos. Would it have been eligible for a first-book prize? Yes, but the photographer would have been the author. Technically [and intuitively], Taj Mahal Foxtrot is Fernandes’ first book.”
The other shortlisted books are: Tamasha in Bandargaon by Navneet Jagannathan, The Purple Line by Priyamvada Purushottam, The King in Exile by Sudha Shah, The Inexplicable Unhappiness of Ramu Hajjam by Taj Hassan and Calcutta Exile by Bunny Suraiya.
The shortlisted works were sent to the 2012 panel of judges: literary agent and author David Godwin, poet, dancer and novelist Tishani Doshi, and author Basharat Peer.
“We unanimously agreed that Naresh Fernandes should win for Taj Mahal Foxtrot. This year’s shortlist for the Shakti Bhatt Prize was strong and diverse, ranging from an account of the fall of the last King of Burma to a contemporary exploration of womanhood in Chennai. We decided on Taj Mahal Foxtrot, not just because of the original subject matter, but also because of the huge talent that is Naresh Fernandes. He writes with warmth, humour and a great deal of perception about a city he clearly loves,” Ms. Doshi said.