The novel ‘No Presents Please’ originally written in Kannada by noted author Jayant Kaikini and translated into English by eminent translator Tejaswini Niranjana has been announced as the winner of the prestigious DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2018 at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet in Kolkata, India, during January 2019 last month. The DSC Prize has always encouraged writing in regional languages and translations, and this is the first time that a translated work has won the prize. This magnificent book gives us a protagonist that is vivid yet full of contradictions, spirited yet lonely, embattled yet big-hearted – the city of Mumbai. Empathy and survival are the constant, codependent themes that unify every strand of this extraordinary book, creating a shimmering mosaic of a conflicted city that is as kind as it is, at times, cruel.
In a glittering award ceremony, the US $25,000 DSC Prize was awarded to Jayant Kaikini and Tejaswini Niranjana along with a unique trophy by eminent writer Ruskin Bond. As per the prize process, the prize money would be equally shared between the author and the translator. The world’s literati including writers, publishers, media and literary enthusiasts who had gathered for the Award Ceremony at the iconic Victoria Memorial Hall enthusiastically applauded the winner of the DSC Prize 2018.
The six shortlisted authors and books in contention for the DSC Prize this year were Jayant Kaikini: No Presents Please (Translated by Tejaswini Niranjana, Harper Perennial, HarperCollins India), Kamila Shamsie: Home Fire (Riverhead Books, USA and Bloomsbury, UK), Manu Joseph: Miss Laila Armed And Dangerous (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, India), Mohsin Hamid: Exit West (Riverhead Books, USA and Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House, India), Neel Mukherjee: A State Of Freedom (Chatto & Windus, Vintage, UK and Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House, India) and Sujit Saraf: Harilal & Sons (Speaking Tiger, India)
Jury Chair Rudrangshu Mukherjee, speaking on behalf of the jury said, “The jury decided to award the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2018 to ‘No Presents Please’ by Jayant Kaikini which has been translated by Tejaswini Niranjana and published by Harper Perennial. The jury was deeply impressed by the quiet voice of the author through which he presented vignettes of life in Mumbai and made the city the protagonist of a coherent narrative. The Mumbai that came across through the pen of Kaikini was the city of ordinary people who inhabit the bustling metropolis. It is a view from the margins and all the more poignant because of it. This is the first time that this award is being given to a translated work and the jury would like to recognize the outstanding contribution of Tejaswini Niranjana, the translator.”
Malavika Banerjee, Director of the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet, made the opening address and welcomed the DSC Prize to the city of Kolkata. As part of the evening program, the 5 member international jury panel of the DSC Prize was introduced, the shortlisted authors read excerpts from their books, and culminated with Ruskin Bond, the Chief Guest for the ceremony, presenting the trophy to the winner of the DSC Prize 2018.
Administered by the South Asian Literature Prize & Events Trust, the prestigious DSC Prize for South Asian Literature has helped to raise the profile of South Asian writing around the world by rewarding authors who write about the region. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature which was instituted in 2010, is an established international literary prize that awards the best work in South Asian fiction writing each year. The past winners have been from various countries and their work has reflected the importance of South Asian culture and literature.
Congratulating the winner, Surina Narula, MBE and co-founder of the DSC Prize said, “My heartfelt congratulations to author Jayant Kaikini and translator Tejaswini Niranjana for winning the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2018 for their brilliant book ‘No Presents Please’. It was a pleasure reading the shortlist. The challenges faced by the authors to weave their protests against the wave of anti globalization into their writings of seemingly harmless pieces of literature could be seen through their work, migration being a major theme this year. The DSC Prize has completed eight years and reading South Asian literature written in English including translations has enabled larger global audiences to understand the issues globalization has brought about. The jury as usual has to do the difficult task of selecting the better amongst the best. My congratulations to the jury for their excellent choice of the winner.”
The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2018 was judged by a diverse and distinguished five member jury panel comprising eminent figures drawn from the international literary fraternity who have worked in or around South Asian literature and issues. This year’s international jury panel included Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Jury Chair, Professor of History and the Chancellor of Ashoka University and an internationally acclaimed historian of the revolt of 1857 in India, Nandana Sen, a writer, actor and child-rights activist and author of six books, who has worked as a book editor, a poetry translator, a screenwriter, and a script doctor, Claire Armitstead, who has also been a theatre critic, arts editor and literary editor, Tissa Jayatilaka, who was the Executive Director of the United States-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission and is the author of several publications and has translated and edited many journals, and Firdous Azim, Professor of English at BRAC University, Bangladesh, whose research has focused on women’s writings in the early twentieth century Bengal.
About the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature
The US $25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature which was instituted by Surina Narula and Manhad Narula in 2010, is one of the most prestigious international literary awards specifically focused on South Asian writing. It is a unique and coveted prize and is open to authors of any ethnicity or nationality as long as the writing is about South Asia and its people. It also encourages writing in regional languages and translations and the prize money is equally shared between the author and the translator in case a translated entry wins.
Now in its 8th year, the DSC Prize has been successful in bringing South Asian writing to a larger global audience by rewarding and showcasing the achievements of the authors writing about this region. Past winners of the DSC Prize have been H M Naqvi of Pakistan, Shehan Karunatilaka of Sri Lanka, Jeet Thayil and Cyrus Mistry from India, American author of Indian origin Jhumpa Lahiri, Anuradha Roy from India, and Anuk Arudpragasam of Sri Lanka who won the prize last year. In line with its South Asian essence, the DSC Prize award ceremony is held in various South Asian countries by rotation. The winner of the DSC Prize 2016 was announced at the Galle Literary Festival, Sri Lanka, the winner of the DSC Prize 2017 was announced at the Dhaka Literary Festival, Bangladesh, and this year the winner was announced at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet, India.
About the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet
The Kolkata Literary Meet was launched in 2012 in the belief that a culturally rich city like Kolkata needed its very own festival for celebrating literature and the allied arts such as dance, music, recitation, cinema, and theatrical performances. Kalam, which is the popular name of the literary meet has been overwhelmingly well-received from the very first year and has grown to become an integral part of the city’s annual cultural calendar. The lit meet has drawn some of the most premier authors and speakers from across India and the world, and has hosted eminent writers such as Vikram Seth, Paul Beatty, Imran Khan, Alessandro Baricco, Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Thomas Keneally, Amitav Ghosh, Gloria Steinem, Jhumpa Lahiri, Tash Aw, Javed Akhtar, Peter Godwin, Adrian Levy, and Mark Tully, among several others.
Kalam’s focus is to present writers from all over the globe, writers of as many different genres as possible, alongside speakers representing India. With topics as varied as history, sport, geopolitics and cinema, there’s something for everyone. The event programming caters to the reader so that they can enjoy a sumptuous literary feast and can rediscover the wonderful world of books and writing, all over again. Since 2015 the lit meet has been known as the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet