Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fierce competition for Commonwealth Prize

Competition is fierce among a widely diverse set of literary works for this year's Commonwealth Writers' Prize, but the capital hosting the award ceremony is abuzz with positive literary energy.

As the countdown begins for the annnouncement of the winner, the authors assembled here are gratified by the fact that they are winners from their respective regions, even as the jury goes through a grilling experience of choosing from the world's best literary work.

The eight regional winners of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the panel of judges are in the capital for the final round of the Award to be announced on Monday, and some feel its like a choice between oranges and apples. "To me it is one of the most unusual prizes, because each of the eight authors coming from each of the four regions have already won the prizes in their own regions," says Michael Crummey, the Canadian author whose 'Galore' has been adjudged the best book in the Caribbean and Canada region.

"Amidst this diverse set of books, picking one is like choosing between apples and oranges. For me winning will be an icing on the cake, being here is in itself an achievement," he told PTI.

Agrees Rana Dasgupta, the Delhi-based British Indian novelist, whose second literary work 'Solo', a story that encompasses a century of communist and post-communist regimes in Bulgaria, has won the best book for the South Asia and Europe region.

Dasgupta says the fact that the contending literary works are drawn from such a large part of the world and are so varied makes the prize an important one, but the choice from here is always subjective.

"I have not yet got the time to read the other books that are competing, just read Daniyal's (Mueenuddin) book. But the writers, all of whom are winners in their own right, have gathered here are a fantastic group of people.

"When you have already got to this stage, the choice from here is largely arbitrary, it will depend much on personal tastes," he said.

The Commonwealth is a group of 54 countries, and the finalists for the award are the authors that have been adjudged the best in the four regions comprising it. For the first time in the history of this award, a writer from Samoa is among the finalists, and Mark Collins, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Foundation, says the foundation is working to promote and encourage authors from places that are hitherto lesser-known on the literary scene.

"This prize has gone to lesser-known areas, like Samao, this time. We are also encouraging smaller and lesser
known publishing houses from places that are not yet well known on the literary scene but definitely have a lot of talent," he told PTI.

Full report here PTI

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