The shortlist for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2014 has been announced. In its seventh year, the prize money has been increased to Rs 2 lakhs with support from Priti Paul and the Apeejay Trust.
The six books in contention for the trophy and cash prize are:
A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor (Hamish Hamilton Penguin India)
The Scatter Here Is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer (Random House India)
The Vanishing Act by Prawin Adhikari (Rupa)
a cool, dark place by Supriya Dravid (Random House India)
The Competent Authority by Shovon Chowdhury (Aleph)
The Smoke Is Rising by Mahesh Rao (Random House India)
The selected books were drawn from yet another strong pool which attests to the vibrancy of the subcontinent's literary culture; three books have emerged from metropolitan India, one from a smaller Indian city, one from urban Pakistan and one from rural Nepal.
The Shakti Bhatt Prize Advisory Committee states: “A Bad Character and a cool, dark place are novels of growing up in circumstances and environments that are idiosyncratic, and often fraught with danger. The Vanishing Act and The Scatter Here Is Too Great bring political concerns and socio-economic realities to the fore while The Smoke Is Rising aims its lens at extremely local politics. The Competent Authority is a sharp satire set in an alarmingly recognisable future.
“Overall, the Shakti Bhatt Prize shortlist confirms that the evolving ethos of South Asian literature throws up many commonalities while retaining a strong sense of place.”
This year's judges are authors Amit Chaudhuri, Aatish Taseer and Mridula Koshy (2009 winner of the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize).
The winner will be announced in November 2014.
Priti Paul, director of the Apeejay Surrendra Group and the force behind the Oxford Bookstore chain, has come aboard as a major benefactor to the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize. Her financial contribution through the Apeejay Trust makes this seventh year of the award especially notable as the prize money will now be Rs 2 lakh for the winning book. While Paul has pledged her involvement for the next few years, the Foundation hopes that more individuals will come forward to boost the work of subcontinent authors.
No stranger to altruism, Paul's Apeejay Anand Children's Library in Kolkata has already won the Duke of Edinburgh Prize for Social Service.