Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Empire's orphan children

As a touchingly emotional Rana Dasgupta rose to receive the Commonwealth Award for the Best Book, he joined a long list of distinguished winners, from Mordecai Richler and Rohinton Mistry to Peter Carey, Vikram Seth and Andrea Levy.

Dasgupta’s Solo, his second book and first novel, is a virtuoso performance, like so many Commonwealth Prize winners. Set in Bulgaria, it explores the painful consequences of the choices made by both nations and individuals. Ulrich is blind, living out his years in a city where all the stories have changed, after “the former villains were cast in bronze and put up in parks”. As his mind wanders through a real and sometimes imaginary past, his life seems like a settling, however unfair, of history’s accounts.

With Peter Carey, J M Coetzee, Thomas Keneally and Chimamanda Adichie on the regional shortlists at one point, it seemed that Solo would be the dark horse of the competition, despite its obvious merits — but the final list of regional winners didn’t include any of the big four, making Dasgupta and Michael Crummey the front-runners for the competition.

Full report here Business Standard

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