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Jaspreet Singh's 1984 Novel, "Helium" is On Longlist for Prize for South Asian Literature





Toronto-based author Jaspreet Singh has been chosen for his book “Helium”, a lookback on the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms in India, among  ten writers longlisted for the US $ 50,000 Prize for South Asian Literature.

Popular novelists Khalid Hossini and Jhumpa Lahiri have also made to the longlist for their books “And the Mountains Echoed” and “The Lowland.”

Poets Meena Kandasamy, Rukmini Bhaya Nair and Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, have been longlisted for their books “The Gypsy Goddess”, “Mad Girl’s Love Song” and “The Mirror of Beauty” respectively. The last is the sole translation in the list announced here today.

Other longlisted works include “The Scatter Here is Too Great” by Bilal Tanweer, “A God in Every Stone” by Kamila Shamsie, “The Prisoner” by Omar Shahid Hamid and “Noontide Toll” by Romesh Gunesekera.

The 10 authors have been longlisted from 75 entries received from publishers across the world by a five-member jury chaired by noted poet and writer Keki N Daruwalla.

“There was a tremendous mix of themes, landscapes, styles, issues -- both political and non-political. The narratives ranged from eighteenth and nineteenth century history history to the Naxalite era in West Bengal, tribal rebellions to feudal atrocities,” Daruwalla said at the Longlist announcement here.

Other members of the jury include John Freeman, American literary critic and former editor of Granta; Maithree Wickramasinghe, an English professor from Sri Lanka who is an expert on gender‘ Michael Worton, who has written extensively on modern literature and art; and Razi Ahmed from Pakistan who is founding director of the annual, not-for-profit Lahore Literary Festival (LLF).

The prize, which is now in its fifth year, has been previously bagged by HM Naqvi for “Home Boy”, Shehan Karunatilaka for “Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew”, Jeet Thayil for “Narcopolis” and Cyrus Mistry for “Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer”.

The winner from a shortlist, to be revealed on November 27, 2014 in London, is set be announced at the Jaipur Literature Festival in January 2015.


Edited for

October 20, 2014


Conversation about this article

1: Manjit Singh Johar (New Delhi, India), October 21, 2014, 12:12 PM.

"Helium" is a fantastic combination of science, technology, history and fiction, all amalgamated in literature, to describe the latest chapter in the great saga of the Sikhs.

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