British award for two Indian novelists

New Delhi, Jan 18: Cultural ties between India and Britain received a new boost with leading London-based literary agency Tibor Jones and the prestigious Foyles Bookstore honouring two emerging south Asian fiction writers, Sri Kumar Sen and Rohit Manchanda, with the maiden Tibor Jones South Asia Prize.

The prizes, to be given annually, were awarded to the writers on the strength of their unpublished manuscripts, ‘A Place in the Mind’ by Rohit Manchanda and ‘The Skinning Tree’ by Sri Kumar Sen.

Eighty-year-old Sen, who was the boxing correspondent for The Times, London, and worked for The Guardian, returned to India after 47 years to collect the prize.

Sen’s book is about his childhood memories of Kolkata – a city where he grew up. The book narrated the story of a child, who lives in his imagination at his grandmother’s house in Kolkata and is unable to cope with the real world, when he is sent to a boarding school in northern India.

Manchanda, a professor at Indian Institute of Technology-Mumbai, probes the tension and conflicts in the small world desire of a Punjabi family to make it big in Delhi. The story is set in the India of the 1980s – when aspiration of the middle-class was growing in the run-up to the new millennium.

The winners, who will split a cash prize of Rs.100,000, will be represented by Tiber Jones and Associates, which has the likes of Wilbur Smith and Rem Koolhas on its rolls.

The winners were judged by a panel comprising author Amit Chaudhuri, poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, publisher Urvashi Butalia, publisher and author Jon Cook and journalist Amana Fontanella-Khan.

Poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra said: ‘Both the works are superb pieces of writing and it seemed like a literary finish.’

Novelist Amit Chaudhuri said the two manuscripts were unusually polished and original.

Over 80 manuscripts were submitted for the prize, of which six were shortlisted.

‘The award is an attempt to provide an opportunity for new unrepresented writers to find publication in South Asia and abroad,’ said Martin Pick, chairman of Tibor Jones and Associates.

The new award is the third in the list of prizes for South Asian authors which include the Man Asian Literary Prize and the DSC South Asian Literary Prize.

IANS