So the Crosswords ceremony was a finer, shorter, better thing this year than before, though I’d still say they’re missing out on the opportunity to turn the writing awards into a mini-literary festival. Suketu Mehta (Maximum City won in the English non-fiction category) gave good speech and was duly Page 3’ed by everyone. Salman Rushdie (Shalimar the Clown won in the English fiction category) was there in spirit, his voice channelled to the audience via a slightly shaky cellphone connection. And Krishna Sobti stole hearts and minds by braving the optical-illusion steps to the stage (from step one, it looks as though steps two and three have disappeared) and delivering an excellent speech in which she basically asked for an end to the divisions and contentiousness between “other Indian languages” and “English”.
Back in Delhi, Little Magazine turned their new awards for South Asian writing–one set of awards honours established writers, one set is for new writing–into a mini-festival. Little Mag organised readings, discussions and free-flowing conversations in the run-up to the final awards ceremony, which was held on Monday. Sounded like fun.
And this week, the Man Booker announced a new prize: the Man Asian. Five years ago, we had few ways beyond the purely sarkari of saying thank you to our authors; now there’s three major awards and counting.