Anuk Arudpragasam wins the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017

Anuk Arudpragasam has been announced as the winner of the prestigious DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017 for his novel, The Story of a Brief Marriage at the Dhaka Lit Fest in Bangladesh. Told in meditative, nuanced and powerful prose, this shattering novel marks the arrival of an extraordinary new literary voice. In a glittering award ceremony, the USD 25,000 DSC Prize was awarded to the winner along with a unique trophy by Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, minister of Finance, Bangladesh. The worl

20 Nov 2017 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

The five shortlisted authors and novels in contention for the DSC Prize this year were Anjali Joseph (The  Living, Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, UK), Anuk Arudpragasam (The Story of a Brief Marriage, Granta Books, UK), Aravind Adiga (Selection Day, Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, India, Karan Mahajan (The Association of Small Bombs,  Chatto & Windus, UK & Viking, USA & Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, India) and Stephen Alter (In the Jungles of the Night, Aleph Book Company, India).

Speaking on the occasion, Ritu Menon, on behalf of the jury said, “The jury met and discussed the shortlisted novels in detail. As all the shortlisted novels had considerable strengths and remarkable literary quality, deciding the winner was not an easy task. However, the jury agreed that Anuk Arudpragasam was the best possible choice for his outstanding novel, The Story of a Brief Marriage. The novel is impressive for its intensity and rich detail, and for exploring the tragic heart of war with such quiet eloquence. It is also a testament to the redemptive power of love, and to the human spirit's capacity for hope.”

The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is an established international literary prize that awards the best work in South Asian fiction writing each year. This year the DSC Prize had received 60 eligible entries with participation from publishers from the South Asian region as well as from countries like the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and South Africa amongst others. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which is specifically focused on South Asian writing is unique in the sense that it is not ethnicity driven in terms of the author’s origin and is open to any author belonging to any part of the globe as long as the work is based on the South Asian region and its people. The past winners have been from various countries and their work has reflected the importance of South Asian culture and literature.

Surina Narula, MBE and co-founder of the DSC Prize said ,“My heartfelt congratulations to Anuk Arudpragasam for winning the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017. This year, the shortlisted novels were all equally exciting with diverse subjects which brought out the nuances and the changing dynamics in South Asian life in a unique and evocative way. It must have been a tough task for the jury members to choose from these five exceptional contenders and arrive at the eventual winner. We are honoured to be invited to give the award this year in Bangladesh. The DSC Prize has now completed seven successful years, and it remains focused on recognising and showcasing the immense talent writing about the South Asian region and bringing it to a larger global audience.”

The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2017 was judged by a diverse and distinguished five member jury panel, including Ritu Menon, Jury Chair and eminent feminist writer who has commented on a wide range of gender issues affecting the

South Asian region; Valentine Cunningham, professor emeritus of English language and literature at Oxford University, UK, who has authored several books on Victorian fiction and poetry; Steven Bernstein, celebrated screenwriter, director, author, cinematographer and lecturer based out of Los Angeles, USA; Yasmin Alibhai-Brown , respected journalist, pundit, radio and television broadcaster, based in London, who has written extensively on society, culture and feminism, and Senath Walter Perera, Senior Professor in English, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka who has authored several publications on the diasporic and postcolonial literature of the region.

The USD 25,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature which was instituted by Surina Narula and Manhad Narula in 2010, is one of the most prestigious international literary awards specifically focused on South Asian writing. It is a unique and coveted prize and is open to authors of any ethnicity or nationality as long as the writing is about South Asia and its people. It also encourages writing in regional languages and translations and the prize money is equally shared between the author and the translator in case a translated entry wins.

Now in its 7th year, the DSC Prize has been successful in bringing South Asian writing to a larger global audience through rewarding and showcasing the achievements of the authors writing about this region.

The last six winners of the DSC Prize have been Anuradha Roy (Sleeping on Jupiter, Hachette, India); Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland, Vintage Books/Random House, India); Cyrus Mistry (Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer, Aleph Book Company, India, Jeet Thayil (Narcopolis, Faber & Faber, London), Shehan Karunatilaka (Chinaman, Random House, India) and HM Naqvi (Home Boy, Harper Collins, India).

The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam

Dinesh is a young man trapped on the frontlines between the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers. Desensitised to the horror all around him, life has been pared back to the essentials: eat, sleep, survive. All this changes when he is approached one morning by an older man who asks him to marry his daughter Ganga, hoping that victorious soldiers will be less likely to harm a married woman. For a few brief hours, Dinesh and Ganga tentatively explore their new and unexpected connection, trying to understand themselves and each other, until the war once more closes over them.

Told in meditative, nuanced and powerful prose, this shattering novel marks the arrival of an extraordinary new literary voice.

Anuk Arudpragasam is from Colombo, Sri Lanka and is currently working towards a doctorate in philosophy at Columbia University. He writes in English and Tamil. This is his first novel.