Friday 30 September 2016


A new way to announce awards. And who flayed his publisher publicly for lack of enthusiasm and competence?

Staged Whisper

Once India’s premier literary award, the Crossword prize looked as if it had lost the plot somewhat. Award ceremonies are bad enough because of authors competing like race horses, but to add to the humiliation, this time all the shortlisted contenders who had turned up for the translation prize were called up on the stage before the announcement. Imagine the discomfiture of those who didn’t win, up there, when the winners were announced: Malayalam Sahitya Akademi prizewinner Sarah Joseph’s novel about a nun, Othappu, translated by Valson Thampu, better known as principal of St Stephen’s College. Cruel!

Dropped In A Bazaar

Fortunately, by the time it came to the non-fiction prize announcement, the organisers seemed to have realised the limits of authorial performance. With two coffeetablers in the shortlist, one would have thought the prize choice would be easy. But no, it was a tie between two rather academic books: Looking East to Look West: Lee Kuan Yew’s Mission India by Sunanda K. Datta-Ray and Bazaars, Conversations and Freedom by Rajni Bakshi. Datta-Ray took the opportunity to flay his publisher publicly: for lack of enthusiasm and competence.

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