Five books from India in race for Commonwealth Writer’s Prize

New Delhi, April 12 (IANS) Five contemporary English fiction titles from India – Misi Saran’s “The Other Side of Light”, Jeet Thayil’s “Narcopolis”, “Em and the Big Hoom” by Jerry Pinto, “The Wildlings” by Nilanjana Roy and “God on Every Wind” by Farhad Sorabjee – have been nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2013.

Twenty-one titles are in the race for the Commonwealth Prize, the highest honour for literature in English from Commonwealth countries, a statement said Friday. The prize inspires writers, story-tellers and a range of cultural practitioners to make an impact on the society with their literature and engage with the audience for change.

The prize builds on communities of emerging voices to influence their lives directly and indirectly. The five regional winners and the overall winner will be announced May 14 at the Hay Festival in London. The winner will receive a cash purse of 10,000 GBP pounds the regional winners 2,500 pounds.

The winners will be judged by a panel of members of the international literary community represented by Godfrey Smith, Goretti Kyomuhendo, Manu Joseph, Linda Leith, Esther Phillips and Martin Shaw.

The list of regional finalists are first-time novelists who address issues typical to the Commonwealth nations like immigration, colonial history, post-colonialism, politics, relationships and transformation.

The nominees include Sarah House by Ifeanyi Ajaegho (Nigeria), Disposable People by Ezekel Alan (Jamaica), Floundering by Romy Ash (Australia), “Running the Rift” by Naomi Benaron (Canada), Mazin Grace by Dylan Coleman (Australia), “A Tiger in Eden” by Chris Flynn (Australia), “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce (UK), “The Headmaster’s Wager by Vicent Lam (Canada), Island of a Thousand Mirrors, Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka), “he Death of Bees” by Lisa O’Donnell (United Kingdom), “The Spider King’s Daughter” by Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria), “The Great Agony & Pure Laughter of the Gods” by Jamala Safari (South Africa), “The Last Thread” by Michael Sala (Australia), “Sterile Sky by E.E. Sule (Nigeria)”, “Beneath the Darkening Sky” by Majok Tulba (Australia) and “The Bellwether Revivals” by Benjamin Wood (UK).

The Indian books nominated for the prize are debut novels that explore the layered life of South Asia and the forces that have driven its pace in the post-colonial age with their pulse on the country’s changing economics, society and the early years of globalisation of the Commonwealth.

“The Other Side of Life” is the tale of one woman, two lovers, three best friends and the gift of an old camera that spurs Asha to leave her family and boyfriend Kabir to spend a year in a Swiss village. Poet-writer Jeet Thayil’s “Narcopolis” is a personal journey of the writer through the low life of Mumbai in the dope dens of Mumbai in the 1970s while “Em and the Big Hoom” takes a broad look at the Goan immigrants in Mumbai with the romance of Em and Big Hoom, which writer Jerry Pinto describes as a “shade autobiographical”.

“The Wildlings” by Nilanjana Roy is a novel set in Nizamuddin, an old Delhi neighbourhood. It builds in a world of a herd of stray telepathic cats , a housebound kitten named Mara and huge battle that ensues when the behaviour code is broken.

Farhad Soranjee’s “God on Every Wind” is the family saga of an old Goan brood of Portuguese origin in the family home of Casa de Familia DaCruz.

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