Amitabha Bagchi wins DSC prize for South Asian Literature 2019
Amitabha Bagchi's brilliant novel 'Half The Night Is Gone' has won the prestigious DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019. The announcement was made during a special award ceremony held at the IME Nepal Literature Festival on December 16, in the picturesque city of Pokhara. Pradeep Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, along with Surina Narula, Co-founder of the DSC Prize presented the winner's trophy to Amitabha Bagchi in an event attended by key dignitaries, literary enthusiasts, writers and media.
The DSC Prize has always encouraged diverse voices that bring alive the layered nuances of South Asian life, and Bagchi's novel, a post-colonial saga that unfolds over three generations, adroitly explores human relationships, and the intertwining of fates and cultures in a thoroughly Indian context. The novel's attention to details, inventive use of language, and its memorable well defined characters make it an outstanding read.
The five member international jury panel for the DSC Prize 2019 and the shortlisted authors were present at the event where the authors did a reading from their shortlisted novels. The winner announcement was well received by the audience present at the IME Nepal Literature where the best of Nepali and South Asian literature were on view. This is in line with the prize's vision to encourage literary talent in various South Asian countries which it has been doing by announcing the winner in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and Nepal over the last four years.
Jury Chair Harish Trivedi, speaking on behalf of the jury said, "South Asia is now perhaps more visible and more omnipresent than ever before. There is a South Asia at home and a South Asia abroad and both inhabit a shared literary space of writings originally in English or translated into English. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is the only prize which encompasses nine different countries in South Asia and the diaspora, and this year we also received entries from some writers with no ethnic connection with South Asia. For the five jury members located in five different countries, reading 90 novels in 90 days was a transformative experience. Over the months, we arrived at a diverse and inclusive longlist of 15 and a shortlist of 6 novels, representing the polyphonic richness of the region. It is out of this collective literary churning that there has emerged a winner whose work subsumes many languages and sensibilities."
Congratulating the winner, Surina Narula, co-founder of the DSC Prize said, "My heartiest congratulations to Amitabha Bagchi for winning the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019 for his brilliant novel 'Half The Night Is Gone'. All the shortlisted books this year deal with diverse and powerful themes and there were three debut novels and a book about Afghanistan. It is a tough decision as always for the jury to choose a winner from these exceptional entries. We are delighted to be invited to give the award this year in Nepal and I hope this encourages more publishers from Nepal to enter their books for the prize next year. The DSC Prize has now completed nine years and it is heartening to see the increased interest amongst readers across the world in South Asian life and culture through these books."
The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019 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 Harish Trivedi, (Jury Chair) former Professor of English at the University of Delhi who has written extensively on colonial and post colonial literature; Jeremy Tambling, Former Professor of Literature at the University of Manchester with an interest in present and past literatures, in critical theory, and in film; Kunda Dixit, Editor of the Nepali Times newspaper in Kathmandu, and author of several books on the South Asian region, climate change and technology; Carmen Wickramagamage, Professor of English at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, whose work has focused on feminism, postcolonial theory, and 'Third World' women writers and Rifat Munim, a bilingual writer, essayist, translator and the literary editor of Dhaka Tribune in Bangladesh, with special interest in South Asian English writing.