January 19 2016
- Indian author posts comments on her FB page about winning $50,000 Prize for ‘Sleeping on Jupiter‘
- Is second woman to win, after Jhumpa Lahiri last year for ‘The Lowland‘
- Sir Mark Tully, chairman of the judging panel, said book is inspiration to other writers
- Prize co-founder Surina Narula says novel highlights ‘changing dynamics in South Asian life and culture in a unique way’
A NOVEL about some of the most explosive taboos in Indian society has won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature this year.
Anuradha Roy was present at the awards ceremony at Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka to hear the announcement about her book, “Sleeping on Jupiter”.
She received the prize and a cheque for $50,000 from Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremsinghe on Saturday (January 16).
The following day, she said on her Facebook page: “Many people asked me today if I knew I had won the DSC Prize before the announcement came. I didn’t.
“I had no idea and was stunned to hear my name. The other shortlisted books, many of which I have read, are strong and beautiful, and I had not thought mine stood much of a chance.
“I feel honoured and overjoyed that the judges picked my book. And deeply grateful to my publishers, Maclehose Press and Hachette India, for being behind the book so solidly.”
As is customary the awards ceremony was a star studded affair with former tennis pro Vijay Amitraj among the luminaries on stage for the awards.
Sir Mark Tully, chairman of the five-member panel of judges at the ceremony, declared: “We chose ‘Sleeping on Jupiter’ by Anuradha Roy because of its elegance, flair and readability.
“It raises many issues succinctly and with commendable economy of words. The South Asian setting is described faithfully and evocatively.
“Among the issues raised are the power of memory and myth, religious hypocrisy, sexuality, abuse and other forms of violence. We believe this book will be a source of inspiration to other writers.”
Surina Narula, MBE and co-founder of the DSC Prize, said “My heartfelt congratulations to Anuradha Roy for winning the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016. The winning novel highlights the changing dynamics in South Asian life and culture in a unique way.
“It must have been a tough task for the jury members to choose from the six exceptional contenders and arriving at the eventual winner as each one of the novels represents the very best in South Asian fiction writing. Completing six successful years, the DSC Prize remains focused on recognizing and showcasing the immense talent writing about the South Asian region and bringing it to the larger global audience.”
Roy, who is a publisher, journalist and editor by day and lives in Ranikhet (in the foothills of the Himalayas), beat off six other authors to claim the top prize. She won the Economist Crossword Prize for Fiction for her novel “The Folded Earth” (2011). Her first novel, “An Atlas of Impossible Longing” (2008), has been widely translated and was named by World Literature Today as one of the sixty essential books on modern India.
In London last year for the launch of the book at Asia House, the cultural and business institute in Central London, as part of its Literature Festival, she played down some of the book’s controversial themes.
Her seeming attack on godmen and religion in general, said it made difficult reading for her mother, who for the first time, was unable to complete a book written by her daughter.
The book told through three older women characters and one younger one is a deceptively deep mediation on the nature of the spiritual and and the feminine and tackles violence aganst women in its many guises.
What perhaps it does powerfully is highlight some of the behaviours and practices of some religious ‘Holy’ men.
A member of the London audience, who clearly understood the ramifications of challenging the religious lobby in India, was amazed that no one had picked up on this and that Roy herself was largely dismissive or unconcerned or unperturbed by this.
She said she had not been quizzed or criticised for writing about these subjects. But if this was a film – or ever to be made into one – that might not be the case.
However, for now Roy is basking in the glory of beating off the other highly acclaimed titles in the shortlist.
They were Akhil Sharma, “Family Life” (Faber & Faber UK); KR Meera, “Hang woman” translated by Devika (Penguin, India); Mirza Waheed, “The Book of Gold Leaves” (Viking/Penguin India), Neel Mukherjee’s “The Lives of Others” (Vintage/Penguin) and Raj Kamal Jha “She will build him a city”.
www.asianculturevulture.com will be reviewing the books.
Roy is slated to appear at the Jaipur Literature Festival which begins on Thursday (January 21).
This year’s judges were Sir Mark Tully, as chairman, Dennis Walder, Emeritus Professor of Literature at the Open University, UK; Karen Allman, bookseller and literary co-ordinator, Seattle, US; Neloufer de Mel, Senior Professor of English at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka; and Syed Manzoorul Islam, celebrated Bangladeshi writer, translator, critic and academic.
The is the sixth edition of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which was originally launched at the Jaipur Literature Festival and was announced there every year until this one.
The prize will now be announced in different parts of the sub-continent.
Previous winners are: Jhumpa Lahiri “The Lowland” (Vintage Books/Random House, India); Cyrus Mistry “Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer” (Aleph Book Company, India); Jeet Thayil “Narcopolis (Faber & Faber, London), Shehan Karunatilaka “Chinaman” (Random House, India) and HM Naqvi “Home Boy” (Harper Collins, India).
Top picture: Surina Narula, MBE & Co-founder of the DSC Prize, Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Anuradha Roy, Winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016, Karen Allman, Jury Member, and Syed Manzoorul Islam
Shortlist preview – http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/dsc-prize-for-south-asian-literature-2016-six-great-books-but-only-one-author-can-win-50000/
Asia House Literature Festival pre-appearance Anuradha Roy (May 2015) http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/asia-house-literature-festival-2015-unheard-voices-women-and-young-speak-up/
DSC Winner 2014 Winner – http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/mistry-magic-seals-50000-literary-prize/