Authors

Here's the shortlist

The six shortlisted authors for The Hindu Prize, 2014 (clockwise): Anita Nair, Shovon Chowdhury, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, Shashi Deshpande, Ashok Srinivasan and Deepti Kapoor. One of the six novelists will win The Hindu Prize 2014. Read what our panel of judges has to say about the books.



Shovon Chowdhury: The Competent Authority

In his first novel, Shovon Chowdhury presents two of the most terrifying possibilities that India may be faced with: a nuclear strike, and a free market for every possible thing, including human limbs. Drawing these two strands together into a single future not too far away,  The Competent Authority is a savagely satirical exploration of the way this can change people, society, governance, politics, law and order, and daily life. A breakaway from contemporary trends in the English novel in India, The Competent Authority brims with a manic and mordant energy that marks it out as a remarkably original work of fiction. 


Shashi Deshpande: Shadow Play The best poems, W. B. Yeats suggests somewhere, manage to hold justice and reality in a single thought without doing violence to either. At its best, Shashi Deshpande’s fiction reaches this condition too, as is amply evident in  Shadow Play. Moreover, writing in an age when the pressure of fleeting ‘topicality’ is turning novelists into journalists, Deshpande achieves that most difficult of novelistic endeavours: to write beautifully and interestingly about ordinary life. In  Shadow Play, she captures, once again, the many nuances of a certain domestic situation in urban India – and in the process leaves behind a more telling trace of our times than many louder novels about terrorists or cyber-cities can manage.

Deepti Kapur: A Bad Character The simplistic title belies a deeper query into the nature of 'badness' which should be distinguished from villainy or wickedness. The story revolves around the narrator, a young woman revelling in the free spirit of cosmopolitan Delhi, experimenting with books, romance, clothes, food, people, drugs, and much else. Into this youthful scenario comes Prince Charming in wolf's clothing, quite reversing the formula of seduction. Entry to this unknown and challenging world upsets many assumptions of polite society and there's the catch. Told in racy language, the headlong plunge into metropolitan madness captures every nerve with excitement.

Anita Nair: Idris, Keeper of the Light  Anita Nair's  Idris, Keeper of the Light, retains the essential poetry of the ballad from which the narrative takes off. Set in 17th century India, the novel woven around Idris, a restless Somalian trader and compulsive traveler, is at the same time a passionate love story, a tale of adventure that takes the readers to the Malabar of the Zamorin, the opulent Ceylon, and the bewitching diamond mines of Golconda and the celebration of the abiding bond between a father and a son he is late to discover. What makes the novel enchanting is its dreamy, legend-like quality unmarred by its wealth of detail.

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar: The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey  Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar's first novel,  The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey, is a courageous journey into a world almost entirely ignored by contemporary English fiction in India: the tribal life, with all its attendant contradictions and conflicts. Journeying through the lives of several generations of Santhal inhabitants of what is present-day Jharkhand, and using the women's perspective as the narrative filter, this novel adventurously employs fiction as a framework for delving into folklore, tribal religion, human behaviour and family histories. The outcome is a surprisingly deviant voice in storytelling, sometimes confused and convoluted, sometimes with rough edges and broad strokes, but still worthy of close attention.  

Ashok Srinivasan: The Book of Common Signs This collection of stories is full of quiet surprises. The stories are carefully structured, yet playful and quirky in a cerebral way. They cover a great deal of ground with equal facility – from hutments and streets to middle class homes. Whether it is the emotional power of intimacy, the multiple lives of a single mind, or the terrors of difference and separation, real people live them out. Throughout there is a simmering tension between the real and the imagined. The language is suggestive, framing and saying just the right amount and withholding when necessary; metaphors, images and insights are embedded neatly in the narrative. Despite the occasional waywardness, which comes as a pleasant shock, these sophisticated stories are executed with great restraint.  



MEET THE JUDGES




K. Satchidanandan, perhaps the most widely translated of contemporary Indian poets and a Nobel nominee, has 23 collections of his poetry in 19 languages including English, Irish, Arabic, French, German and Italian. His book While I Write: New and Selected Poems (Harper-Collins) came out in 2011. Satchidanandan writes poetry and prose in Malayalam and English and has more than 20 collections of poetry besides several books of travel, plays and criticism and translations of poetry from around the world in Malayalam and five books on Indian literature in English. He is a Fellow of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi and has won 32 literary awards and fellowships including the Sahitya Akademi Award, Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award five times, Knighthood of the Order of Merit from the Government of Italy and India-Poland Friendship Medal from the Government of Poland. A film on him, Summer Rain was released in 2007.


Arunava Sinha translates classic, modern and contemporary Bengali fiction and non-fiction into English. Thirty of his translations have been published so far. Twice the winner of the Crossword translation award, for Sankar's Chowringhee (2007) and Anita Agnihotri's Seventeen (2011), respectively, he has also been shortlisted for The Independent Foreign Fiction prize (2009) for his translation of Chowringhee. Besides India, his translations have been published in the U.K. and the U.S. in English, and in several European and Asian countries through further translation. He was born and grew up in Kolkata, and lives and writes in New Delhi.

Githa Hariharan has written novels, short fiction and essays over the last three decades. Her highly-acclaimed work includes The Thousand Faces of Night, which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book in 1993, the short story collection The Art of Dying, and the novels The Ghosts of Vasu Master, When Dreams Travel, In Times of Siege and Fugitive Histories. Hariharan also edited A Southern Harvest and From India to Palestine: Essays in Solidarity.  Her collection of essays called Almost Home: Cities and Other Places has just been published by HarperCollins India. Hariharan's fiction has been translated into a number of languages and she has been Visiting Professor or Writer-in-Residence in several universities, including Dartmouth College and George Washington University in the United States, the University of Canterbury at Kent in the U.K., and Jamia Millia Islamia in India. She is currently Writer-in-Residence in Singapore.



Born and educated in Bihar, Tabish Khair published a number of critically-acclaimed collections of poetry — including Where Parallel Lines Meet (2000) and Man of Glass (2010) — and novels. His novels have been translated into various languages and shortlisted for a dozen major awards, including the Man Asian Prize, the Encore Award and The Hindu Literary Prize (2010). He has also written or edited several ground-breaking studies and anthologies, including Babu Fictions: Alienation in Contemporary Indian English Novels (2001) and Other Routes: 1500 Years of African and Asian Travel Writing (2005). Apart from contributing to major academic and literary journals, he writes regularly for The Hindu in India and papers in U.K. His latest novel is How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position. Khair now lives in Denmark.

Prof. Malashri Lal is currently the Dean of Colleges at the University of Delhi and was also the Head of the English department. With a specialisation in women’s studies, she has published 10 books including the highly-acclaimed  Law of the Threshold: Women Writers in Indian English. Recently she has co-edited  In Search of Sita and  Chamba-Achamba: Women’s Oral Narratives. Malashri has served on international book award committees including the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. 

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