Women writers dominated the longlist of this year's DSC Prize for South Asian Literature that was announced on Thursday.
Out of the 15 longlisted works, seven have been penned by women writers.
Among those making the cut are Akil Kumarasamy for "Half Gods", Devi S Laskar for "The Atlas of Reds and Blues", Fatima Bhutto for "The Runaways", Madhuri Vijay for "The Far Field", Sadia Abbas for "The Empty Room", Tova Reich for "Mother India" and Shubhangi Swaroop for "Latitudes of Longing".
Instituted in 2010, the award encourages and rewards fiction writing about the South Asian region comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
It carries a cash prize of USD 25,000.
The longlist was selected out of 90 eligible entries of which 47 per cent were by women. They were judged by a five-member international jury chaired by Harish Trivedi, professor of English at the University of Delhi.
Trivedi said the list is diverse and inclusive both intrinsically and by design. It features writers of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Afghan and Sri Lankan origin, as well as an American writer (Reich) with no ethnic connection to South Asia.
"We read 90 novels at the average rate of one a day - an exhilarating, enlightening and humbling experience. Some of the novels we read narrated the nation. Some others explored individual subjectivities and yet aligned them to a broader social and political reality. Some grabbed us by the throat not so much for what they were saying, but for how they said it. Many were set in multiple time-spans and international locations," he said.
The list also includes three translations - Perumal Murugan's "A Lonely Harvest" (translated from Tamil by Aniruddhan Vasudevan), Manoranjan Byapari's "There's Gunpowder in the Air" (translated from Bengali by Arunava Sinha) and T D Ramakrishnan's "Sugandhi alias Andal Devanayaki" (translated from Malayalam by Priya K Nair).
In case a translated work bags the award, the prize money will be shared equally between the author and the translator.
The list is also generous in terms of recognising debut works - Vijay, Kumarasamy, Abbas, and Laskar are all first time authors, so are Jamil Jan Kochai ("99 Nights in Logar"), Mirza Waheed ("Tell Her Everything"), and Nadeem Zaman ("In the Time of the Others").
Other selected entries include Amitabha Bagchi's "Half the Night is Gone" and Rajkamal Jha's "The City and the Sea".
The shortlist will be announced on November 6 in London, and the winner will be declared on December 16 at the Nepal Literature Festival in Pokhara.
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