‘Zesty’ novel on Bhopal disaster takes Commonwealth regional award

March 14th, 2008 - 10:07 am ICT by admin  

London, March 14 (IANS) Indian born writer Indra Sinha’s novel “Animal’s People” has won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the best book in the Europe and Asia region. The winners of regional prizes from throughout the Commonwealth announced Thursday night will form the shortlist for two prestigious overall prizes to be awarded in May.

Sinha’s novel, which was shortlisted for last year’s Booker, was praised by judges’s chair Makarand Paranjape for “its fiercely original, zesty style, coupled with seriousness of theme and intent.”

Sinha, who lives in France, described the 1000 pound-award as “a great honour,” saying: “I am delighted for Animal and his friends.”

The novel is based on the 1984 Bhopal gas leak disaster - Sinha names his fictional town Khaufpur, or the ‘town of fear’. Animal is the name of the narrator, a young man who has been left crippled by the American chemical company. He walks on all fours.

The Best First Book prize for the Asia and Europe region also went to a South Asian - Tahmima Anam’s “A Golden Age”, a novel based on the Bangladesh independence movement.

Anam said, “Over the years, many of my most cherished authors have been winners of the Commonwealth Prize and I’m deeply honoured to have been given the chance to be counted among them. I’m particularly proud to be representing my country as the first regional winner from Bangladesh.”

Other winners of the night were The Hangman’s Game by Karen King-Aribisala (best book, Africa), Imagine This Side by Sade Adeniran (best first book, Africa), The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill (best book, Canada and Caribbean), the End of the Alphabet by C S Richardson (best first book, Canada and Caribbean), The Time We Have Taken by Steve Carroll (best book, South east Asia and South Pacific) and The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee (best first book, South east Asia and South Pacific).

The regional winners in the two categories will compete for the overall prizes, to be awarded on May 18 at the Franschhoek literary festival in South Africa. The winner of the Best Book prize will receive 10,000 pounds and the winner of the Best First Book 5,000 pounds.

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