The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature presents $50,000 to one author from any ethnicity or nationality provided they write about South Asia and its people. Writing in regional languages is also encouraged and the prize money is equally shared between the author and the translator in case a translated entry wins. The long list comprises 11 books, but here’s the one we’d like to take the crown.
Odysseus Abroad by Amit Chaudhuri
Odysseus Abroad is typical Amit Chaudhuri material: unhurried, detailed, and quite poetic. Young Ananda Sen lives in London, and has an aspiration to make a mark as a poet. We see his routine life in London: as a student, as an outsider who wants to belong. His partner in his life in London is his mother’s brother, Radhesh Nancy Majumdar. Radhesh is an eccentric character. He lives a loveless, sexless life; and bathes only two times a year. As Ananda tries to fit in, he also learns of his uncle’s several eccentricities; and this uncle-nephew bonding part of the novel has been done with mentions of so much classical literature, classical music and poetry that that part has attained quite a poetic feel. There is not much in Odysseus Abroad in terms of a plot. But the telling of the events in the lives of this uncle-nephew duo, the beautiful language and the relaxed, sedate pace is what is worth looking out for.
The prize will be awarded in Sri Lanka in January 2016.