Lankan writer wins DSC literary prize

| | Dhaka

Us-based upcoming Sri Lankan novelist   Anuk Arudpragasam  won the $ 25000 DSC prize for south Asian literature in Dhaka on Saturday for his work of fiction titled The Story of Brief Marriage. Set in the immediate aftermath of the Lankan civil war, Anuk's moving portrayal of the  trauma of war and redemptive power of love, made his novel a consensual choice for the Jury led by well-known author Ritu Menon.

A modest young man of 29 years, Anuk is so much affected by the tragedy of the war that ravaged his homeland that he was  reluctant to celebrate  the biggest moment of  his budding writer' life.  "I can't laugh or smile at this moment, because the book is steeped in  tragedy that devastated thousands of lives," he said while receiving the award from Bangladesh Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith.

Congratulating the winner, Surina Narula, co-founder of the DSC Prize said," This year the shortlisted novels brought out the nuances and the changing dynamics in South Asian life in a unique and evocative way. It must have been a tough task for the jury members to choose from these five exceptional contenders and arrive at the eventual winner.  The DSC Prize  remains focused on recognizing and showcasing the immense talent writing about the South Asian region and bringing it to a larger global audience."

The winner of the  prize was announced at the Abdul Karim Sahitya Bisharad Auditorium at the Bangla Academy as the grand finale of the Dhaka Lit Fest. Writers and  publishers from different parts of the world attended the three-day Lit Fest.  The five shortlisted authors and novels in contention for the DSC Prize this year were Anjali Joseph: The Living (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, UK), Anuk Arudpragasam: The Story of a Brief Marriage (Granta Books, UK), Aravind Adiga: Selection Day (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, India), Karan Mahajan: The Association of Small Bombs (Chatto & Windus, UK & Viking, USA & Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, India) and Stephen Alter: In the Jungles of the Night (Aleph Book Company, India)

Speaking on the occasion, Ritu Menon, on behalf of the jury said, "The jury met and discussed the shortlisted novels in detail. As all the shortlisted novels had considerable strengths and remarkable literary quality, deciding the winner was not an easy task. However, the jury agreed that Anuk Arudpragasam was the best possible choice for his outstanding novel.

The other  member of the jury included Valentine Cunningham, Professor Emeritus of English language and Literature at Oxford University, UK who has authored several books on Victorian fiction and poetry; Steven Bernstein, US-based celebrated screenwriter, director, author, cinematographer and lecturer basedl  Yasmin Alibhai-Brown,  London-based journalist,  radio and television broadcaster; Senath Walter Perera, Senior Professor in English, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka who has authored several books  on the diasporic and postcolonial literature of the region.

The last six winners of the DSC Prize have been Anuradha Roy (Sleeping on Jupiter: Hachette, India) Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland: Vintage Books/Random House, India), Cyrus Mistry (Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer: Aleph Book Company, India), Jeet Thayil (Narcopolis: Faber & Faber, London), Shehan Karunatilaka (Chinaman: Random House, India) and HM Naqvi (Home Boy: Harper Collins, India). Each of these winners has gone on to be published internationally and their work has reached a larger global audience which has been one of the central visions of the DSC Prize.

The Dhaka Lit Fest (DLF) is an international literary festival held every November in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Spread over three days, it hosts over hundred sessions with speakers and contributors from all around the world. The festival, now in its seventh year, marks a resurgence of Bangladeshi literary culture while vigorously engaging other cultures far beyond. Sadaf Saaz, Ahsan Akbar and K Anis Ahmed are the three directors of the festival.

On the last day, well-known British  author William Dalrymple  made an  hour-kong  engrossing presentation on his book Kohinoor, which traces the history of the fabled diamond and the tale of curse associated with it. 

The other highlight of the final day was  English actor, model, and artist Tilda Swinton's homage to famous English art critic, novelist, painter and poet, John Berger  through a four-party documentary  titled "The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger." The moving documentary was  the result of a five-year project by Swinton, Colin MacCabe and Christopher Roth.  



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