Thayil Leads Indian Race for Commonwealth Literature Awards
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Booker nominee Jeet Thayil, who has won the Sahitya Akademi and the DSC South Asian literature awards, leads the Indian race for the 2013 Commonwealth Book and Short Story Prizes.

He is among six writers from the country who figure in the shortlists announced for the awards, which no Indian have won till date.

Last year too, there were six Indians in the reckoning. Sri Lanka's Shehan Karunatilaka had won the book prize in 2012 for his 'Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew'.

Apart from Thayil ('Narcopolis'), Jerry Pinto ('Em and the Big Hoom'), Nilanjana Roy ('The Wildings'), Mishi Saran ('The Other Side of Light') and Farhad Sorabjee ('God on Every Wind') are the other Indian writers whose works are among 21 books shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize.

In the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, Anushka Jasraj's 'Notes from the Ruins' is among the 19 works shortlisted.

The Commonwealth Book Prize is awarded for the best first novel, and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for the best piece of unpublished short fiction.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 2011, the Commonwealth Foundation re-launched its prizes to form part of Commonwealth Writers. The prizes act as catalysts to target and identify talented writers from different regions who will go on to inspire and inform their local communities.

Political, religious and social conflict run through many of this year's shortlisted entries, but there are also humorous stories, stories of hope, and stories full of imagination and power.

Encompassing a span of 54 countries, entries are judged within the five regions of Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific, each of which will produce a regional winner for the two prizes. These will be announced on May 14.

The final winners will be announced at the Hay Festival on May 31.

Commenting on the shortlisted entries, chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, BBC journalist Razia Iqbal, said, "People often assume short stories are easier to write because they're, well, short! But it takes a particular skill to establish mood, character and tone in quick strokes, and tell a story which leaves a lasting impression.

"These stories open windows on worlds which seem familiar but, through fiction, which is tightly written, reflect those worlds, in richer and more surprising colours."

Chair of the Commonwealth Book Prize, Godfrey Smith, said, "Our five judges did an admirable job of shortlisting from a bountiful harvest of debut novels, based on originality, linguistic flair, depth, quality of writing and freshness of tone. A number of books boldly pushed the boundaries of form and explosively rebelled against the conventional structures of fiction-writing, inspiring lively and passionate debates among the judges."

Last year, Jahnavi Barua ('Rebirth'), Rahul Bhattacharya ('The Sly Company of People Who Care') and C Y Gopinath ('The Book of Answers') were shortlisted in the Commonwealth Book Prize category.

In the shortlist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize were Anushka Jasraj ('Radio Story'), Poile Sengupta ('Ammulu') and Sreejith Sukumaran ('Another Dull Day').
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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