Sri Lankan writer Shehan Karunatilaka wins DSC Prize for South Asian Literature
Jaipur, January 21, 2012
The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2012 was awarded to Singapore-based Sri Lankan writer Shehan Karunatilaka for his book Chinaman (Random House, India), a novel that explores cricket as a metaphor to uncover a lost life and a lost history.
Chinaman skilfully uses sport and the notion of fair play to look at Sri Lanka in a fresh and exciting way.
The US $50,000 DSC Prize 2012 was awarded to Karunatilaka at a ceremony attended by eminent literary figures, renowned authors, mediapersons and others at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival, one of the biggest literary festivals in the region.
The DSC Prize along with a trophy was awarded to Shehan Karunatilaka by Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, Queen Mother of Bhutan.
Six authors were part of the Shortlist for the DSC Prize 2012 from which the winner was announced. The other shortlisted authors were U.R. Ananthamurthy: Bharathipura (Oxford University Press, India, Translated by Susheela Punitha), Chandrakanta: A Street in Srinagar (Zubaan Books, India, Translated by Manisha Chaudhry), Usha K.R: Monkey-man (Penguin/Penguin India), Tabish Khair: The Thing About Thugs (Fourth Estate/HarperCollins-India), and Kavery Nambisan: The Story that Must Not Be Told (Viking/Penguin India).
The DSC Prize was judged by a jury chaired by Ira Pande along with Alastair Niven, Fakrul Alam , Faiza S Khan and Marie Brenner. The Shortlist was announced in October 2011 at the DSC South Asian Literature Festival in UK.
“The jury unanimously chose this year’s winner. While this fact in itself is a historic one for book juries are notorious for spirited battles over lists and winners, let me add that this year’s winner is also important for several other reasons. The winning title is a brilliant narration of all that is both great and sad about South Asia and in that sense it brings a world to the reader that needs to be seen outside this region. No longer are novelists who write of violence, breakdown of communities and the old way of life able to speak the whole truth about our world," Pande said
“The speech rhythms of smaller towns and indigent characters, so seldom seen and heard, are brought alive by a writer who handles character and speech with consummate ease. That world has long needed a suitable metaphor and he has discovered it: Cricket. Set in Sri Lanka, as an epic search for a lost player, Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilake is both a portrait of a lost way of life and a glimpse into the future this vast and vivid region is fated to occupy," she said.
Chinaman was given the prize for being the best work of fiction pertaining to the South Asian region, published in the last year in English, including translations into English.
Manhad Narula, Director DSC Limited and Founder of the DSC Prize, commented on the occasion saying, “Congratulations to Shehan Karunatilaka for a book that represents the best South Asian writing and winning the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2012. I thank the jury members who’ve had the difficult task of choosing a winner among several exceptional works submitted this year. Now in its second year running, the DSC Prize has built a strong and engaging platform for the recognition of South Asian writing. We are committed to showcasing the best writing in the region and bringing it to a larger global audience”
The prize was instituted in January 2010 to celebrate writing that highlights the South Asian region, its people, culture and diaspora. Envisioned as a unique and prestigious award, it recognizes the literary works of authors across the globe writing on South Asia, transcending the origin or ethnicity of the author.
The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is one-of-its-kind in the region and aims at recognizing literary work that is redefining the understanding of South Asia across the globe.
Last year, the prize was to HM Naqvi for his debut novel Home Boy (HarperCollins India). The DSC Prize is guided by an international Advisory Committee of literary personalities comprising MJ Akbar, Urvashi Butalia, Tina Brown, William Dalrymple, Lord Meghnad Desai, David Godwin, Surina Narula, Senath Walter Perera, Nayantara Sehgal and Michael Worton.
As part of its efforts to contribute to social growth and create social infra wealth, DSC Limited has identified the promotion of literature as a key initiative. The company has been the principal sponsor of the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival for the last five years. During this period, this event has grown to become the largest literary event of its kind in the region.
In order to further strengthen its association with South Asian literature, DSC Limited recently presented the DSC South Asian Literature Festival which was held in London in October 2011 . With growing interest and a robust following of South Asian writing in the UK, this event was a critical step in extending the company’s patronage of literature to a global platform.