Chinaman Wins 2012 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

Last week I wrote up the finalists for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and mentioned how I thought Chinaman by Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka sounded like one of the most interesting of the six books, and that I was curious why no American publisher had picked this up.

Well, two updates: On Saturday, Chinaman won the DSC award, which comes with a $50,000 cash prize, and Graywolf is publishing this book in May with the new title, The Legend of Pradeep Mathew. (And a somewhat bizarre blurb from Michael Ondaatje: “A crazy ambidextrous delight.” OK . . .)

From the DSC jury:

Commenting on the occasion Ira Pande, Jury chairperson said “The jury unanimously chose this year’s winner. While this fact in itself is a historic one for book juries are notorious for spirited battles over lists and winners, let me add that this year’s winner is also important for several other reasons. The winning title is a brilliant narration of all that is both great and sad about South Asia and in that sense it brings a world to the reader that needs to be seen outside this region. No longer are novelists who write of violence, breakdown of communities and the old way of life able to speak the whole truth about our world.”

Speaking further about the winning book, she said, “The speech rhythms of smaller towns and indigent characters, so seldom seen and heard, are brought alive by a writer who handles character and speech with consummate ease. That world has long needed a suitable metaphor and he has discovered it: Cricket. Set in Sri Lanka, as an epic search for a lost player, Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilake is both a portrait of a lost way of life and a glimpse into the future this vast and vivid region is fated to occupy.”

Congrats, and I’m really looking forward to reading this when the U.S. edition is available . . .

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