…will be announced later this week. They’re officially the Hutch Crossword Book Awards now, which The Complete Review thinks is hands down the worst name for a literary award ever. (Lit Saloon guys, you have no idea. In my misspent youth, I once won an award entitled the Good Reading and Happy Writing Urge to Upcoming Authors–a so-called friend entered a poem on my behalf, but on the positive side of things, it was worth two plates of bhelpuri.) Anyway, my Bengali brethren are being duly chauvinist about the shortlists.
The nominees for English Fiction are:
Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide
Raj Kamal Jha, If You Are Afraid of Heights
I. Allan Sealy, The Brainfever Bird
Shashi Deshpande, Moving On
The nominees for Indian Fiction in Translation are:
Chandrasekhar Rathi, Astride the Wheel
Mahasweta Devi, for two books—Bait and In the Name of the Mother
Bani Basu, Birth of the Maitreya
Sharankumar Limbale, The Outcast
Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Waiting for Rain
If you’re an Indian writer writing in India, however, the three-lakh booty attached to the Crossword might be the only silver lining on your horizon. In a burst of candour, Doubleday’s Jane Lawson told a local reporter that “the Indian novel written by Indians living in India is slightly out of fashion.” Go West or perish. Oh, and exotica is out. Multiculturalism is in. The Babu is thrilled to his frickin’ marrow.