Rana Dasgupta wins Commonwealth writers’ prize for best book

DNA.12 April 2010

Rana Dasgupta wins Commonwealth writers’ prize for best book

New Delhi: British Indian novelist Rana Dasgupta won this year’s prestigious Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book for his epic story Solo, while Australian author Glenda Guest’s Siddon Rock was adjudged the Best First Book at the award’s final ceremony in New Delhi today.

Dasgupta, whose book was earlier adjudged the best in the South Asia and Europe region, beat stiff competition from three other regional winners nominated for the final award.

The contenders, who lost out 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.

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, on the other hand, 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.

While the Best Book award carries a prize of 10,000 pounds, the best first book award carries a 5,000 pounds award money.

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.

The Prize, instituted in 1987 by the Commonwealth Foundation, covers the Commonwealth regions of Africa, the Caribbean and Canada, Europe and South Asia and South East Asia and Pacific.

The eight winners that emerged from the regional judging were announced in March and were in Delhi for the final phase of the competition.

The previous winners of the Prize include Vikram Chandra, Jhumpa Lahiri, Mohammed Hanif, V S Naipaul, J M Coetzee, Indra Sinha, Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood among others.