Rohini Mohan’s The Seasons of Trouble has won the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2015. “The shortlist this year was diverse and spectacular, but we unanimously agreed to award the prize to Rohini Mohan,” said judge Samhita Arni, who along with authors Mohammed Hanif and Krys Lee, chose the winner.
Arni added: “Mohan’s book is the stark, brutal, often unsparing portrait of three desperate lives, struggling to navigate the realities and brutalities of war and peacetime in Sri Lanka. The Seasons of Trouble is more than just a meticulously researched work on the Sri Lankan conflict; Mohan’s skillfully-woven and structured narrative testifies to her considerable talent as a storyteller. The careful, deliberate way in which she withholds and later reveals information, her vividly-drawn characters and situations, combine to create a gripping reading experience. The Seasons of Trouble is simultaneously compassionate yet critical, emotionally evocative yet objective.”
This year's shortlist for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize had shown more variety than ever before, straddling fiction, non-fiction and the graphic novel. The categories were strongly represented by younger and older voices that reached for the story behind the story, fully exploring the possibilities of both meta-narrative and speculation.
Author Arshia Sattar, co-curator of the shortlist along with poet and writer Jeet Thayil, had noted how The Seasons of Trouble “presented us with the devastation of the human soul which is the inevitable consequence of any conflict”. The prize ceremony will be held in New Delhi, December 22 at the Max Mueller Bhavan.
The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize is a cash award of 2 lakh rupees, and a trophy. It is funded by the Shakti Bhatt Foundation and the Apeejay Trust.
Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2015 Shortlist
• Indra Das, The Devourers
• Saskya Jain, Fire Under Ash
• Raghu Karnad, The Farthest Field
• Rohini Mohan, The Seasons of Trouble
• Bharath Murthy, The Vanished Path
• Shahid Siddiqui, The Golden Pigeon
About the judges
Samhita Arni is the author and illustrator of The Mahabharata - A Child's View. In collaboration with Moyna Chitrakar, she created the New York Times bestselling graphic novel Sita's Ramayana. Her third book, The Missing Queen, was published in 2013. Samhita was a screenwriter on the feature film Good Morning Karachi and worked as the head scriptwriter on The Defenders, a TV show in Kabul, Afghanistan. She was the 2014 writer-in-residence at the FIND - India Europe Foundation for New Dialogues. Earlier this year, she was a British Council - Charles Wallace India Trust Writing Fellow.
Mohammed Hanif has written two novels, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti and A Case of Exploding Mangoes, which won the inaugural Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize in 2008. Hanif has also written a pamphlet The Baloch Who Is Not Missing And Others Who Are.
Krys Lee is the author of the short story collection Drifting House. She is the recipient of the 2014-2015 Rome Prize fellowship in literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2012 Story Prize Spotlight Award, and a finalist for the 2012 BBC International Story Prize. Forthcoming publications include her first novel as well as a translation of Young-ha Kim’s novel I Hear Your Voice. She is an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at Yonsei University, Underwood International College.