Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A time to scribble and revel

Perhaps nowhere else, for now, is the printed word in such rude health as in South Asia. The region’s writers have much to cheer. Readers have a raging appetite for text on a page, and they are happy to spend money for it. (Most gratifying, at least for a journalist, is to see the old-fashioned newspaper industry flourish as literacy levels rise and a middle class grows.) Advertisers and sponsors are hungry to reach book readers, reckoning that they are among the region’s wealthier and better educated consumers. As a result, cash-rich banks, insurance and construction companies, among others, fall over each other to stump up for literary festivals and book prizes.

Take the announcement today that 16 novelists have been put on a prize longlist for writing on South Asia. DSC, a big Indian building firm, sponsors the prize and is also part of the largest annual literary festival in India, in Jaipur, which burst at the seams with 200 authors and nearly 100,000 visitors this January. The firm is also involved in a South Asia writing festival that will be held soon in London. This is only the second year of the DSC prize, so it hardly has the pedigree of the Man Booker one, say, which has been around for over four decades. But measure it in hard cash—$50,000 for the DSC award, ₤50,000 for the Booker—the South Asian award starts to look serious.

Full report here Economist blogs

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