Cyrus Mistry won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for his novel "Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer", here Saturday at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.
His novel deals with the less-known life of corpse bearers, a microscopic community within the Parsi clan. Their job is to cleanse the body of a deceased and prepare it for the final journey.
"I am overwhelmed and feel happy to receive it," the recluse author told the audience after his name was announced.
The author, 45, took home $50,000 in prize money. He is second Indian after Jeet Thayal to win the award, running in its fourth year.
All six books shortlisted for the prize revolved around the themes of conflict, violence and isolation. The other five nominated were: Mohsin Hamid's "How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia", Sri Lankan Nayomi Munaweera's "Island of a Thousand Mirrors", Nadeem Aslam's "The Blind Man's Garden" and two translations - "Book of Destruction" by Anand and Benyamin's "Goat Days".
"I have hoped to raise large questions that have universal presence through my work," Mistry said.
A jury consisting of editor-writer Antara Dev Sen, translator-writer Ameena Saiyid, British journalist Rosie Boycott and Paul Yamazaki, a veteran bookseller in the US, shortlisted the six books from a long list of 15.
According to Sen, it was not an easy task to make the shortlist.
"All these books have one thing in common: violence. But there are many extraordinary stories, a sense of history and great storytelling in all these shortlisted books," said Sen.
Canadian author John Ralston Saul who was the chief guest pointed out how there was a sense of regionalism in this coveted prize, yet it was open to authors from all countries.
"You have fought your way through," Saul told Surina Narula, founder of the prize.
"By putting an emphasis on translations, you people have stressed the need to have more translations," he said.
"People have been wondering about what will happen to the future of novels as there have been so many novelists, but it indeed is a pleasure to see many people writing good fiction that it is making non-fiction writers jealous," he added.
(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)