Category Archives: Awards and Fests

The 2014 Sahitya Akademi Awards – Part II

The Sahitya Akademi Awards are awards for literature, presented annually for 24 languages in India. The Sahitya Akademi is a government funded and run national academy of letters. The 2014 awards were presented in December, and this is a brief run down of the winners, organised by language, with links to online content, translations and news. Part I covered Assamese to Maithili, and this part covers awards for Malayalam to Urdu.

MALAYALAM

Subhash Chandran, Manushyanu Oru Aamukham (Novel, DC Books): Subhash Chandran writes short stories and novels in Malayalam. He’s a journalist by profession.  Manushyanu Oru Aamukhampublished in 2009, has been tremendously well-received – it has already won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, and the Odakkuzhal award, as well as the Bhasha Institute’s Basheer Puraskaaram and Kovilan Puraskaaram in 2012. The book, like non-English literature often is, was serialised  in the Malayalam weekly Mathrubhumi  before DC Books published it. In a reflection on the national obsession with the purported wisdom of old men, he is often described as a ‘young’ writer (he’s 42). Chandran is part of a group of excellent young Malayalam writers, including the incredible KR Meera (whose Hangwoman/Aarachar ought to have been a contender!)

  • Books: Buy Manushya Oru Aamukham (in Malayalam) at DC Books, and his other books (in Malayalam) at the Indulekha online bookstore. A translation has not been published as yet.
  • Links: Read his first story in English, ‘America!’ in Caravan.
  • Coverage: In the Malayalam press, I expect (I don’t know the language at all, so no links, I’m afraid) but some English coverage too – Madhyamam, Times of India.

MANIPURI/MEETEI

Naorem Bidyasagar, Khung-Gang Amasung Refugee (poetry Cultural Forum Manipur, 2011): the Manipuri award was announced a little after the remaining awards. Bidyasagar is a lecturer at GC College, Silchar, in Assam, where he teaches Manipuri. The book itself is a collection of poems that “deal with the problem of insurgency in Manipur, the socio-economic and contemporary problems being faced by the people of the neighbouring state.”

MARATHI

Jayant Vishnu Narlikar, Chaar Nagarantale Maaze Viswa (autobiography): Jayant Narlikar is an astrophysicist, very well reputed, and has previously won two of India’s highest civilian honours for contributions to science. In an elegant twist, he has turned his hand recently to writing science fiction in Marathi, some of which has been translated into English. He initially wrote under a pseudonym (“N.V. Jagtap”) for Marathi magazines, and won the annual Marathi Vidnyan Competition for his story ‘Krishna Vivar’. He’s won the SA this year however, for his autobiography, which is still available only in Marathi. It details his life in four cities: Varanasi, Cambridge, Mumbai and Pune. (If you have kids who use the Hornbill English texts, you’ll find his name familiar: the story ‘Adventure’ in the Class XI book is by him).

NEPALI

Nanda Hankhim, Satta Grahan (Short Stories): Nanda Hankhim is very well known in Nepali literature circles, and has previously won a bunch of prizes: the Nepali Sahitya Sansthan Puruskar, Ratnashree Puruskar, Bhanu Bhakta Puraskar (he apparently returned this last one), etc. He writes for both, adults and children, and his works include novels, stories, poetry and plays. I can’t find links to books or translations online. I hope we’ll see some soon.

ODIA

Gopalkrushna Rath, Bipula Diganta (Poetry): Rath has previously won the state Odisha Sahitya Akademi award for 2003-04. He’s currently a member of the Akademi’s General Council.

PUNJABI

Jaswinder, Agarbatti (Poetry, Chetna Parkashan, 2011): Jaswinder Singh is apparently a former Naxalite whose first collection of ghazals (lyric poetry, rhyming couplets with a refrain) was published by contributions from his former colleagues. The ghazal has traditionally been in Urdu, but some say that this award means increasing recognition for the ghazal in Punjabi. Singh is now an engineer, posted with the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant in Ropar and has published six volumes of poetry thus far. He says, himself, that “Earlier, I wrote progressive poetry that was called “Jujharu Kavita” (revolutionary poetry)…..“After reading the poetry of Jagtar, Misha and Surjit Pattar, I became inclined to write ghazals,”

RAJASTHANI

Rampal Singh Rajpurohit, Sundar Nain Sudha (Short Stories): There’s nothing (atleast, in the English and Hindi media) that I can find on the writer or the book.

SANTALI

Jamadar Kisku, Mala Mudam (Play): Not much available. Here’s a link to Mala Mudam.

SINDHI

Gope ‘Kamal’, Sija Agyaan Buku (Poetry): Gope Daryani, who writes as ‘Kamal’ is from Uttar Pradesh, apparently now settled in Dubai. He writes short stories, poetry and novels, and has previously won a Sindhi literature award for his collection of ghazals, Sijja Agyaan Buku (Sooraj ke Aage Oak). He’s also won the Central Hindi Directorate Award in 1980 (for writing in Sindhi)

  • Books:-
  • Links: Here’s an English translation by Param Abhichandani, of a story by Kamal titled, ‘Search for Blood’
  • Coverage: –

TAMIL

Poomani, Agngnaadi (Novel): ‘Poomani‘ is the nom de plume of Tamil writer Pooliththurai Manickavasagam. He was born and lives in Kovilpatti. The winning novel was published in 2012 to acclaim: it’s a massive 1,200 page tome that describes the lives of a family over several generations, spanning 200 years, detailing, in particular, caste-related riots. He’s won the first Gitanjali Literary Award for it. A detailed profile in Caravan by N Kalyan Raman says that the research that went into this novel was made possible through a grant by the Indian Foundation of the Arts in Bengaluru. Raman’s essay is a good introduction to the novel and to the author and will simply have to do until someone finds the courage to publish a translation. (TNIE has predictably called it a ‘subaltern saga‘ . Poomani refuses to be identified as a ‘Dalit’ writer

TELUGU

Rachapalem Chandrashekara Reddy, Mana Navalalu Mana Kathanikalu (Literary Criticism): RC Reddy is a Telugu writer and teacher,. He’s Professor for Telugu at the Yogi Vemana University, in Kadapa. He’s previously won awards for his critical writing on Telugu literature, but his views on this are clear: he said in an interview with The Hindu that “literature should have an ideological base” and that he does not believe in art for art’s sake. He has previously edited eight volumes of Dalit literature in Telugu, along with Lakshmi Narasaiah.
  • Books: There’s a bunch of books available, in Telugu, here and here.
  • Coverage: Naturally the Telugu press is on it (my knowledge of the language is limited to some conversational phrases and some very rude words) but The Hindu has this interview.
Munawwar Rana, Shahdaba (Poetry): Munawwar Rana is that rare and lovely thing: an Indian writer, who doesn’t write in English, and yet has an active web presence. This twitter feed, either maintained by or for him, often contains couplets of poetry, including a rather charming thank you to all those who congratulated him on the award. (He also did a Google Hangout on Dec 25). Rana has explained why he writes in Urdu (although he’s as comfortable in Hindi, being from Uttar Pradesh) -“The simple thought of discrimination. The day this word was born Urdu lost its stature. It was never the language of Muslims. It was the language of the common people.” If you understand Hindi/ Urdu, this interview with Ravish Kumar of NDTV is well worth your time.
  • Books: His publications page on his website.
  • Links: Here‘s a large number of ghazals (in Devnagari script – mostly in Urdu, I think) and in Roman script here.
  • Coverage: Plenty (apart from his own) -in English:  Hindustan Times,  and in Hindi: Nai Duniya, plus a link to all the coverage on his facebook page.

The 2014 Sahitya Akademi Awards – Part I

ABOUT THE SAHITYA AKADEMI AWARDS:

The Sahitya Akademi Awards are probably the most significant pan-Indian literature awards (the Sahitya Akademi is the equivalent of a National Academy of Letters). I say this because they span 24 languages (the 22 recognised in the Indian Constitution’s 8th Schedule plus English and Rajasthani). This post contains coverage and background on the 2014 Awards: regretfully, not reviews, because I haven’t read all (but one – Jussawala) of the winners. Briefly, the awards are selected by panels of three judges (one panel per language). The prize includes Rs.100,000/-, a plaque, fame, adulation and the envy of one’s fellow humans. Eligible works include volumes of poetry, fiction, criticism, essays, and include translations.

Here is the complete list of winners for the 2014 in English and Hindi (PDFs, Sahitya Akademi website). Part I will cover Assamese to Maithili, Part 2 (forthcoming) Malayalam to Urdu.

ASSAMESE

Arupa Kalita Patangia, Mariam Astin Athaba Hira Barua (Short Stories): The award for Assamese went to Arupa Kalita Patangia, who teaches English at Tangla College in Assam and is one of the most well-known Assamese novelists today. She holds a PhD from Gauhati University (written on women characters in Pearl S Buck’s novels) and has published three novels, nine collections of short stories, a children’s novel and some translations, so far. Last year, she won the Prabina Saikia Literary Award.

  • Books: Two of her previous novels have been translated to English and published by Zubaan Books:The Story of Felanee (translated by Deepika Phukan) and Dawn (translated by Ranjita Biswas).
  • Links: You can read an English translation of her story ‘Ai’ (Mother) in Muse India here.
  • Coverage: Assam Tribune, The Sentinel, Assam Times,

BENGALI

Utpal Kumar Basu, Piya Mana Bhabe (Poetry): Basu belongs to Bengali poetry’s Hungry Generation, a postmodern literary movement (also called, somewhat unmusically, the Hungryalists) that began in the 1960s in Bengal. (This paper by Sanchari Bhattacharya, in English, is a an introduction). A profile by Aryanil Mukherjee says Basu is a geologist by training, although he is now well known as a poet. This excerpt from Amit Chaudhuri’s book on Calcutta includes some conversations with Basu. He won the Ananda Purashkar for Bengali writing in 2006.

  • Books: You can buy volumes of his poetry (in Bengali) from the Parabaas bookstore.
  • Links: There are some dodgy English translations on PoemHunter, some better translations on the Kaurab site. I can’t find published English translations; hopefully, the Sahitya Akademi will translate this collection.
  • Coverage: No Basu-specific coverage in English  that I could find.

BODO

Urkhao Gwra Brahma, Udangnifrai Gidingfinnanei (Return from Freedom, Poetry): The winner for the award in Bodo is a poet, but also a former Member of Parliament (RS) and used to be the head of the All Bodo Student Union. He’s got a blog (mostly in English) and a twitter account (locked).His biodata on the Rajya Sabha website says that he has a number of books published in the Bodo language (no translations listed). He was a member of phitika, a private poetry circle to which he was introduced by Brajendra Kumar Brahma, his uncle and the first winner of the Tagore Award. He heads the UN Brahma Academy, which runs schools across Assam. He writes in Assamese, Bodo and English. (See here)

  • Books: Again, hoping that this book is translated. Translations of Bodo literature are rather rare, though there have been some recent initiatives.
  • Links:
  • Coverage: In a brief statement to the Assam Times, he said, “This is a prestigious award by a big organization in the country. My name figured in the last which I did not expected. It would encourage the new writers,”. A more extended interview in Indian Express has a quote: “I am surprised, and also thrilled. I am also glad I have been elevated from a typical politician to a recognized poet”

DOGRI

Shailender Singh, Hashiye Par (Novel): Singh is a serving member of the Jammu and Kashmir police, and currently serves as a Senior Superintendent (SSP). Singh has degrees in engineering and managementHashiye Par was actually published in 2009, but this year, Oxford brought out an English translation by Suman K Sharma, titled, For A Tree To Grow. It is his first novel, and has been published to some critical acclaim: he’s already won the Ram Nath Shastri Memorial Award for it. Some reviews: Lydia Wahid for Rising Kashmir, Dinesh Sharma for Tinpahar. Singh is also on Twitter.

GUJARATI

Ashvin Mehta (Chhabi Bhitarani (Essays): Although Mehta is known more as a photographer than a writer (Salil Tripathi compared him to Ansel Adams), he wrote several books, as well. A profile at Archer India says, “Mehta didn’t describe himself as a photographer. For him, his art was incidental to celebrating life.” From what I understand, the collection of essays, Chhabi Bhitarani was published in 2010, partly in Gujarati and English. I assume the 2014 prize is for a translation, but I couldn’t find any. There isn’t much coverage, but here are some of his photographs.

  • Books:Chhabi Bhitarani on World Cat, no translations that I can find and some photography books by him, on Amazon
  • Links: –
  • Coverage: –

ENGLISH

Adil Jussawala, Trying to Say Goodbye (Almost Island, 2011): Jussawala is one of the four ‘Bombay Poets’ (along with Gieve Patel, AK Mehrotra, and the late, great Arun Kolatkar). One profile describes his work as a “trenchant critique of the underlying market-driven ethic of the bourgeoisie”. Like some of the other volumes, this was actually published in 2011 by Almost Island. I suppose that I am in a minority amongst the hissy, reverential majority, but I’ve never been a fan. If you ask me, 2013-14 saw many worthy books in English (including poetry) so I’m a little confused by this selection. Nevertheless, much has been written about Jussawala, his life, and work:  Anjum Hasan’s essay in Caravan describes the literary context of his works and the Bombay poets school; Anand Thakore’s essay on his poetry for PIW and AK Mehrotra’s essay on his prose. His remarks on the poverty of Indian writing in English, after he received the award, are already generating controversy.

HINDI

Ramesh Chandra Shah, Vinakay (novel): He was born in 1937 in Almora, Uttarakhand, and taught in universities until he retired in 2000. He served as the Head of the English Department in Bhopal’s Hamidia University, and later at the Nirala Srijanpeeth. He’s written eight novels, several volumes of stories and poems, two plays, several books of essays and has also translated a number of works (from English to Hindi). His wife, too, is a  well-known Hindi writer (Jyotsna Milan) and a translator, notably in Gujarati and Hindi. Shah won the Padma Shri in 2004, which is one of the highest civilian honours in India.

KANNADA

Govindray H Nayak, Uttaraardha (Essays): GH Nayak is a writer, poet and professor of Kannada. He’s previously won the Kannada Sahitya Award, and the Pampa Award for his writing. As a critic, he was unusual in being beloved by one of Kannada’s finest novelists, the recently deceased UR Ananthamurthy. Ananthamurthy was a fan of his critical works, describing the ‘rare objectivity in Nayak’s criticism’. Nayak, in turn, described his close friendship with Ananthamurthy, a relationship spanning six decades. His response to the award has been surprisingly modest: “I know the standard of my writing. I would have been happy if the award was conferred when I was young,”

KASHMIRI

Shad Ramzan, Kore Kakud Pushrith Gome (Poetry): Dr M Shad Ramzan teaches Sufi poetry, folk literature and the cultural history of Kashmir, at Kashmir University. His publications seem to be mainly academic work, criticism and edited volumes thus far. He also has done a number of translations, and won the Akademi’s translation award in 2009 for his translation of ‘Anhaar Te Akus’. He has also won the Harmukh Literary Award in 2007. In 2010, he ran into some trouble for framing a translation question in a university exam on a passage that dealt with the biological evolution of the human body – this led, idiotically to criminal charges of moral turpitude.

KONKANI

Madhavi Sardesai, Manthan (Essays): Dr Madhavi Sardesai, sadly, died only a few days after the Sahitya Akademi awards were announced. She was only 52, and had been battling cancer. This was her second Sahitya Akademi award: she’d earlier won it for a life of Gandhi, in Konkani, titled  ‘Eka Vicharachi Jivit Katha’. Sardesai was born in Portugal and settled in Goa. She was a linguist by training and wrote her PhD on Portuguese influences on Konkani. Her 1993 volume Bhasabaas, preceding this, was an introduction to Konkani linguistics. She’s also known for translating de Exupery’s The Little Prince from the French to Konkani. Sardesai was also the editor of the Konkani monthly, Jaag, for which work she won the Ligoriyo Furtad Trust Prize, ‘Patrakarita Puraskar

MAITHILI

Asha Mishra, Uchat (Novel): I can, unfortunately, find nothing on the author or the book, online. Hopefully some updates after I check out library resources on Maithili writing. Given that the language is spoke by 34.7 million people, you’d think there would be more on this!

India and the IMPAC Dublin Awards

The IMPAC Awards around the world

The IMPAC Dublin Awards are generally very odd. The (very long) longlist of 142 books are chosen by libraries from participating countries. How are the libraries chosen? No one knows, but they are described as participating libraries on the FAQs and as public libraries on the title page.

MA Orthofer, as usual, has done a good job of deconstructing the odd process (and odder nominations) that end up in the IMPAC longlist, pointing particularly to the inevitable problem of localism. M Lynx Qualey has pointed to some problems with the IMPAC prize and Arabic literature, and more generally, to the absence of translations.

India’s participation: which library?

India’s nominating library for the IMPAC Dublin Awards is the India International Centre Library. Let us review this choice, briefly. The India International Centre is a privately-owned and run “cultural centre” that contains a library open only to its members. Non-members aren’t even allowed into the library. Members of the India International Centre are a small, exclusive lot – one generally has to know someone (as one often does, in Delhi) and membership is not currently open, nor has been for a while. The library itself is has vast collections, particularly a notable India collection and an art collection. The library collection is selected by a nebulous committee, which may or may not consider member suggestions for the acquisition of new books. There’s no public acquisition policy (although there well may be one accessible to members).

Why is this bizarre? Because IMPAC’s website says they invite public libraries to nominate books. By no standard is this privately owned, privately run, exclusive library a public library. (Note: the main website’s section on the nomination process says “public libraries”. The FAQs do not.) Most other countries, however, have state and public libraries as the nominating entities. Why not the the National Library? The Delhi Public Library? The central but autonomous Rammohun Roy Library?

India’s participation: Nominated books

It should be no surprise to anyone then, that this private library nominated these books from India for the IMPAC award:

  1. Jhumpa Lahiri‘s The Lowland
  2. Amitabha Bagchi‘s This Place
  3. Ravinder Singh‘s Like it Happened Yesterday

Let me explain why I’m incredulous about these choices. First of all, the IIC’s own library OPAC shows that Ravinder Singh’s book has been requested a grand total of zero times. The same goes for Amitabha Bagchi’s This Place. They don’t even have a copy of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland.

Lahiri, in addition, may come from Indian roots, but is herself an American citizen (she may ‘struggle to feel American‘ but I don’t see her giving up her citizenship and moving to India, where she has never lived. Her novels, indeed, are mostly about the immigrant experience). I find it hard to believe that the IIC could not find a single author from India, who had been published or translated into English in 2013, apart from Bagchi and Singh.

Literary Merit

The IMPAC Awards, though, are not for popularity. They’re awarded based on the library’s opinion of “high literary merit”. I really don’t have much to say about the merit of these three books involved (I haven’t read any of them, to be honest).

I’m not going to include reviews to Lahiri’s The Lowland (it’s been reviewed everywhere, she’s well known in America, where she lives, writes and publishes).

Bagchi’s third book, This Place, has received generally positive reviews. Somak Ghoshal in Livemint said it “outgrows every expectation”. Rajat Choudhuri in Outlook praised the novel’s “purity of … prose married to a clear-eyed storytelling”.

I will, however, express some doubts about Ravinder Singh’s nomination. I know he’s immensely popular, and if that were the basis of the prize there would be no difficulty (200,000 copies were preordered). Interviews and reviews seem to indicate, however, that the book is autobiographical, not fictional, while the IMPAC award is very clearly for a ‘novel’.

In sum, I find both, the choice of library and the choice of books somewhat bizarre. I am also, like M Lynx Qualey, concerned about the absence of translations. This has been a rich year for writing and translation in India – even with the narrow window of a book written in English in 2013 or written between 2009-2013 and translated in 2013, it should have been possible for IIC to nominate atleast one book that wasn’t written in English.

Updates

  • Bruce Humes has a breakdown of the nominations by language.

The Hindu Prize 2014 : Shortlist

The shortlist for the Hindu Prize for Literature 2014 is out. It accepts entries in English and in English translation. Unsurprisingly, nothing in translation has been nominated.

Shovon Chowdhury’s The Competent Authority (Aleph Book Co) has been nominated again (it has also been nominated for the Shakti Bhatt Award. So is Deepti Kapur’s A Bad Character, (Random House/Penguin) also on the Shakti Bhatt Prize shortlist.

Shashi Deshpande (one of my favourite authors) has been nominated for Shadow Play (in English). It draws from her earlier work, A Matter of Time. What changed? In The Telegraph, she says, “I see women have changed. Men haven’t.” She also speaks about the book in The Hindu , the Indian Express and the Deccan Herald. It’s been reviews in The New Indian Express and Biblio (paywalled).

Anita Nair’s Idris, Keeper of the Light (HarperCollins) is a fantasy-adventure sent in 17th century Malabar. Sridala Swami has reviewed it in Mint Lounge.

Hansda Showvendra Shekhar‘s The Mysterious Ailment of Rupa Baskey (from Aleph Book Company, again), set in a Santhal village in Jharkhand, is a family saga. Joanna Lobo reviewed it in DNA, Yatin Gupta in IBNLive.

Ashok Srinivasan’s The Book of Common Signs (HarperCollins) is a collection of short stories. Divya Trivedi reviewed it in Frontline.

The Sarda Translation Awards, 2014 [Manipuri]

The Imphal Free Press reports that Tayenjam Bijokumar Singh won the 2014 Sarda Translation Award, for translations from and to the Manipuri language. The award was presented by the Sahitya Thoupang Lup (known as the ‘Sathoulup’),on International Translation Day. The award was apparently instituted in 2003 in honour Ningombam Sarda Devi, but not much information on previous winners is available.

Tayenjam Bijokumar Singh has been writing and translating in Manipuri for several years, now. Along with Robin Ngangom, he’s published a translation of poetry by Manipuri poet Saratchand Thiyam titled Saffonbird, earlier this year. Last year, he wrote a selection of short stories in English, titled Ramu Prasad’s Angel,  which was published by Partridge Press.

In 2005, he won the Katha Award for translation, and his short story, ‘Mama, I’m Up Here’ won the Sulekha-Penguin Online Writing Contest. Muse India has a profile of him, here. He’s also on twitter.

The Shakti Bhatt Prize shortlist, 2014

The shortlist for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2014, has been released. The winner will be announced in November, 2014 and the award panel consists of Indian authors Amit Chaudhuri, Aatish Taseer and Mridula Koshy.

The Shakti Bhatt Prize was constituted in memory of editor and writer Shakti Bhatt, and consists of a cash award of Rs. 1,00,000. The initial announcement makes it clear that “Publications must be in English or translated into English from an Indian language.” (although, as is usual among the English-speaking literati in India, no reasons for this linguistic chauvinism are disclosed). The Prize was first awarded in 2008; on an inital skim through the shortlist, I can’t find a single book in translation that has been nominated.

The shortlist and a quick rundown follows:

  1. A Bad Character by Deepti Kapur (Random House/Penguin) – RH’s blurb describes this novel (written in English) as “A novel about female desire, A Bad Character shows us a Delhi we have not seen in fiction before: a city awash with violence, rage and corruption.” Prashansa Taneja reviewed it in the Guardian, praising it for being frank while regretting that “somewhere along the way it gets tangled in a web of cliches.” Other reviews here: Charlotte Runcie in The Telegraph, Rajvi Glasbrooke-Griffiths in the Wales Art Review, Faiza Khan at her blog, Gargi Gupta in DNA, and Somak Ghoshal in Livemint.
  2. The Scatter Here Is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer (Random House/HarperCollins) – Bilal Tanweer is a Pakistani writer, a faculty member at the LUMS college. This is again, a novel written in English. Claire Chambers’ review in the Dawn praises ‘glistening fragments’ of the novel while noting that “at times it appears too self-consciously straining to be literary.” Other reviews here: Evan Bartlett in The Independent, Jess Row in the New York Times, Hirsh Sawhney in The Guardian, Omair Ahmed in Time Out Delhi, Paromita Chakrabarti in the Indian Express.
  3. The Vanishing Act by Prawin Adhikari (Rupa) – Prawin Adhikari is a Nepali writer, and this, his debut collection of short stories was written in English and published in India. Thomas Bell’s review in Nepali literary journal La.Lit said it was “the work of a talented writer and a deeply serious and sensitive interrogator of modern Nepal.” The book has been on the longlist for the Frank O’Connor Award for Short Stories. Other reviews here: Melani P Kumar in the Deccan Herald, Sophia Pande in Nepali Times, Carol Andrade in Afternoon Despatch and Courier.
  4. a cool, dark place by Supriya Dravid (Random House India) – This is the only novel on the list that I’ve read, and frankly, I was surprised to see it here. Anita Roy was absolutely right when she wrote for Tehelka that the author tends to overwrite, and “uses five metaphors where one would do.” The book, nevertheless, has been on the longlist for the Tata Literature Live First Novel award. You can read an extract via IBNlive or Wall Street Journal India. Other reviews: Akhila Krishnamurthy in The Hindu, Vivek Tejuja in The New Indian Express, Parvati Sharma in the Hindustan Times.
  5. The Competent Authority by Shovon Chaudhury (Aleph Book Co) – This, in my view, is probably the strongest contender on  the list, with nearly uniformly good reviews. A sharp, satirical novel about Indian bureaucracy. Reviews: Jaya Bhattacharji Rose in The Hindu, Somak Ghoshal in LiveMint, Deepanjana Pal in First Post, Ajachi Chakrabarti in Tehelka.
  6. The Smoke is Rising by Mahesh Rao (Daunt Books and Random House India) – An interview with the author in Open Road Review (by Kulpreet Yadav) reveals that he began with the question of “what Malgudi would look like today” (an ambitious path, undoubtedly). Asawari Ghatage gave it a reasonably positive review in Time Out Delhi, but Somak Ghoshal at Livemint was more cautious, saying that it “remains a novel full of promise waiting to be seized, a failing that is not unusual with first novels.”