Dasgupta wins Commonwealth Writers’ Prize

Manorma Online,13 April 2010


Dasgupta wins Commonwealth Writers’ Prize

British-Indian author Rana Dasgupta won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for 2010 for his epic tale “Solo” set in Communist and post-Communist Bulgaria while Australian Glenda Guest’s “Siddon Rock” picked up Best First Book at the award’s grand finale ceremony here.

Dasgupta, whose book was earlier adjudged the best in the South Asia and Europe region, beat off stiff competition from the three other regions to win the 10,000-pound prize. Minister of State for External Affair Shashi Tharoor gave away the awards at the event held for the first time in Delhi, the venue for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in October.

“I dont see the Prize in any way as a celebration of colonialism or an acknowledgement of the historical past but surely as one that binds us together through language,” said Tharoor who was a recipeint of the prize around 20 years ago.

The contenders, who lost out to Dasgupta in the race were South African author Marie Heese’s ’The Double Crown’, Canadian writer Michael Crummey’s ’Galore’ and Samoan author Albert Wendt’s ’The Adventures of Vela’. Similarly, Glenda Guest won the 5,000-pound prize seeing off competition from seven regional winners of the Best First Book from Africa, the Carribbean and Canada, South Asia-Europe, South East Asia-Pacific regions.

The panel of judges that decided the overall winners included Chair of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Justice Nicholas Hasluck, Elinor Sisulu Antonia MacDonald Smythe Muneeza Shamsie Anne Brewster and Makarand Paranjpaye, the representive from India. Born in the UK, the 38-year old author, whose first book ’Tokyo Cancelled’ was shortlisted for the 2005 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, has been based in Delhi for the last nine years.

“Solo” is Dasgupta’s second book and is a story that encompasses a century of Communist and post-Communist regimes in Bulgaria, told from the perspective of a near centenarian man. Guest’s ’Siddon Rock’ won the award over other first timers — Nigerian author Adaobi Tricia Nwaubeni’s ’I Do Not Come to You by Chance’, Canadian debut novelist Shandi Mitchell’s ’Under This Unbroken Sky’ and Pakistani author Daniyal Mueenuddin’s ’In Other Rooms, Other Wonders’.

The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards, is presented annually to reward the best Commonwealth fiction written in English by both established and new writers.