Authors Rohit Manchanda and Srikumar Sen were announced the joint winners of the inaugural Tibor Jones South Asia Prize 2012 for their unpublished manuscripts, respectively, A Place in Mind and The Skinning Tree.
Manchanda and Sen were named the winners at an award reception in a New Delhi residence hosted by UK-based Tibor Jones & Associates, the Charles Pick Consultancy and Foyles Bookstore. The tied winners will split the 1 Lakh Rupees cash prize and both receive literary representation by Tibor Jones & Associates.
This is the first year of the prize, set to become an annual feature on the South Asian literary landscape, which aims to nurture new unrecognized talent.
The prize was judged by an esteemed panel of literary and publishing professionals, chaired by author Amit Chaudhuri, alongside Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, the poet, translator and critic; Urvashi Butalia, the publisher and author; Jon Cook, Professor of Literature; and the journalist Amana Fontanella-Khan.
On the judging process, which resulted in a tie, Amit Chaudhuri, Chair of Judges, noted, “It’s not every day or even every year that, while judging a prize, you come across two works of exceptionally high quality, striking for their polish, originality, and accomplishment. We had a consensus early on in the final stages of judging that this is indeed what had happened with the inaugural Tibor Jones South Asia Prize. All of us agreed that splitting the prize was the fairest decision. That we have two terrific winners rather than one is a matter of celebration.”
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra added, “Both novels are superb pieces of writing and it seemed to be neck and neck all the way; a literary photo finish. Awarding the prize to both seemed like much the best decision. Anything else would have been unfair to the other.”
Rohit Manchanda, a Bioscience Professor at IIT Bombay, has published two books in the past including In the Light of the Black Sun, for which he won the Betty Trask Award. Upon learning of his triumph, Manchanda stated, “There is first the thrill of having one’s novel chosen for the prize by so very notable a panel of judges; and, no less importantly, tied to the prize comes the opportunity of the novel being represented by Tibor Jones Associates, a leading agency for literary fiction. The springboard towards publication that this arrangement offers is, to my mind, every bit as valuable as the prize itself, and Tibor Jones are to be complimented on building into the award this singular feature.”
Srikumar Sen, of Calcutta and long-time London-based journalist, has written for the Guardian and been the Boxing Correspondent for The Times. Sen added, “I am happy that the judges of the Tibor Jones South Asia Prize have decided to make a joint award – to Rohit Manchanda and me – for it gives me the double pleasure of sharing as well as winning. It has also inspired me to put a bit of jaldi into my next book, which is already on its way.”
Over 80 manuscripts were submitted by the October 2011 deadline by South Asian writers living around the world, with a shortlist of six announced on December 15, 2011. Submissions for the Tibor Jones South Asia Prize 2013 open in June.
The competition is open to writers from South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Burma/Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan). There is no restriction on theme or style.