Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Amit Varma in race for Asian Literary Prize

Fellow blogger Amit Varma of India Uncut fame is turning novelist. And possibly a prize-winning one at that.

The Man Asian Literary Prize is an annual award for an "Asian novel unpublished in English". And this year their longlist includes Varma's debut novel "My Friend, Sancho".

The largest single group of submissions for the Man Asian Literary Prize was from India -- accounting for around half of the 21 books in the longlist.

These will be whittled down to a shortlist in October this year while the winner will be crowned at a ceremony in Hong Kong the following month.

"My Friend, Sancho" is set in Mumbai. Abir Ganguly, a young journalist on the crime beat, is asked by his editor to write a profile of Mohammad Iqbal, the victim of a police encounter. In the course of writing about another man’s life, his own is transformed. The reason is Iqbal's daughter, Muneeza – or Sancho, as her father used to call her.

Varma is busy finishing his novel-in-progress (which made the longlist on the basis of its first three chapters) and India's most famous blogger may not get enough time to work on the India Uncut blog, which is usually updated several times a day.

In a post on Tuesday, Varma wrote he needs "to submit my entire manuscript by August 1 to remain in contention for the prize, and I’m not quite done with it yet. Thus, for the next few days, I take a break from India Uncut."

Which is bad news for all those addicted to daily updates from India Uncut on Bollywood, media WTFs, 'where our taxes go' and Indian cows.

But here's hoping for some good news on the famous-blogger-turning-prize-winning-novelist front.

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