The shortlist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017 was announced last week in London. Here are the five contenders:
♦ The Living by Anjali Joseph (Fourth Estate): Claire is a young single mother working in one of England’s last-remaining shoe factories. Arun makes hand-sewn chappals at his home in Kolhapur. A recovered alcoholic, now a grandfather, he negotiates the onset of old age while reminiscing about an extramarital affair he had years ago.
♦ The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam (Fourth Estate): Dinesh is a young man trapped on the frontlines between the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers. He is approached by an older man who asks him to marry his daughter, Ganga, hoping that victorious soldiers will be less likely to harm a married woman.
♦ Selection Day by Aravind Adiga (Fourth Estate): Fourteen-year-old Manjunath Kumar is good at cricket. He fears and resents his domineering and cricket-obsessed father, admires his talented older brother, Radha, and is fascinated by the world of science. When Manju gets to know Radha’s great rival, a boy as privileged and confident as Manju is not, everything in Manju’s world begins to change.
♦ The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan (Fourth Estate): When a car bomb goes off in 1996 in Delhi, it kills two schoolboys, the Khurana brothers. Their friend Mansoor survives but bears the physical and psychological effects for life. Mansoor isn’t the only one damaged by the bomb. Mr and Mrs Khurana are trapped in legal battles, desperate for justice. Young Kashmiri bomb-maker Shockie also gets linked to the blast.
♦ In the Jungles of the Night by Stephen Alter (Aleph Book Company): Who was the real Jim Corbett? A hunter who tracked down marauding tigers and leopards? A naturalist who spoke the language of the jungle? Wildlife photographer? Conservationist? Legend? Much of Corbett’s life remains enigmatic, despite many biographies and a film. This fictionalised story shows us the man behind the legend and explores the shadows and the sunlight of his jungle world.
The winner of the $25,000 (Rs 16,35,000 approx.) prize will be announced on November 18, at the Dhaka Literary Festival in Bangladesh.