Amitav Ghosh, Jeet Thayil shortlisted for literature prize

New Delhi: Six books including ‘River of Smoke’ by Amitav Ghosh, ‘Narcopolis’ by Jeet Thayil and ‘The Wandering’ by Pakistan-based author Jamil Ahmad, have been shortlisted for the DSC South Asian Literature Prize 2013.

The list, announced in a gala at the Mayfair Hotel in London late Tuesday night, includes six writers -- three Indians, two Pakistani and one from Bangladesh -- besides an American translator for the $50,000 prize. The finalist will be announced at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival January 2013.

The jury of poet K. Satchidanandan, critic Muneeza Shamsie, Elliot Bay author reading programme founder Rick Simonson, Kathmandu Literary Jatra director Suvani Singh and Palestinian Festival of Literature co-founder Eleanor O`Keefe deliberated the list from a selection of 16 books.

Chair of the jury K. Satchidanandan said: "There were 81 entries for the prize this year, from authors and translators across India, Australia, Britain, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, reflecting the importance of South Asia`s rapidly expanding book market."

He said India was currently the world`s third largest English book market (after the US and the UK), and was set to become the largest within the next 10 years, a British Broadcasting Corporation report forecast in May.

The list reflects the thematic range and stylistic diversity of the contemporary south Asian fiction.

"The works cover a range of subjects from the strange destinies of tribal people in a world being fast urbanised; the conflicts and paradoxes of Muslim life with its various attitudes to religion; the strange destiny of the Indian migrants; the sharp schisms; the tragic ironies of modern Asian societies; and the city life in the sub-continent with its seldom exposed underbelly," Satchidanandan told reporters.