New Delhi: London-based Indian writer
Kishwar Desai has won UK`s prestigious Costa First Novel Award
2010 for her book "Witness by Night", which addresses issues
like unwanted girl child, gender prejudice and bias and
"Kishwar Desai pulls off a remarkable trick,
transplanting a country house murder to modern-day India in a
book that is not afraid to tackle serious themes," the judge
trio of Anita Rani, Anneka Rice and Mark Thornton said of the
book by the wife of House of Lords member Meghnad Desai.
"We were thrilled and exhilarated by this stunning
debut. Just like her feisty main character, Desai has
fearlessly blown the lid on the problems that simmer under the
surface of modern-day India," the judges said in a statement.
The Costa Book Awards are one of the most prestigious
and popular literary prizes in the UK and recognize books of
the year by writers based in the UK and Ireland.
The awards have five categories - First Novel, Novel,
Biography, Poetry and Children`s Book.
The winners in each category will receive USD 8000 at
a ceremony in central London on January 25.
Desai, along with the winners in the other four
categories, is now a contestant for the 30,000 pound award of
the Costa Book of the Year 2010. This will be announced at the
Costa Book Awards ceremony.
The story revolves around 14-year-old Durga, found all
alone in a sprawling farm house tucked away in a corner of
Punjab, the sole suspect in the mass murder of 13 members of
Simran, a whisky-swigging, chain-smoking unmarried
social worker from Delhi, is Durga`s only hope.
As Simran tries to explore every corner of Jalandhar
and its people, from an enigmatic tutor Harpreet and his
disfigured wife to the picture perfect high-society Arminder
and her superintendent husband Ramnath, she delves deeper and
deeper into a cruel world where even the ties of family are
meaningless. It isn`t long before she realises that nothing is
quite as it seems.