Literary icons of tomorrow revealed - Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Winners 2010
Rana Dasgupta wins Best Book for Solo
Glenda Guest wins Best First Book for Siddon Rock
Winning books take risks and break the rules, say judges
Today [12th April] in an exciting climax to the race for the international titles of Best Book and Best First Book, the winning authors of the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize were revealed:
Best Book Winner – Solo, Rana Dasgupta
The judges chose Solo for its innovation, ambition, courage and effortlessly elegant prose. A remarkable novel of two halves, this is a book that takes risks and examines the places where grim reality and fantastical daydreams merge, diverge, and feed off each other. Solo, the judges concluded, is a tour de force, breathtaking in its boldness and narrative panache.
Best First Book Winner – Siddon Rock, Glenda Guest
The judges praised Siddon Rock for its rich cast of odd characters and blending of the everyday with fantasy. Behind every door in town lurk secret desires and wild imaginings. The novel, they concluded, deftly delves into the hauntings and disjunctions of settler Australia, and in its fable-like quality captures the laconic mannerisms of the Australian outback.
Both books, the judges noted, showed how magic, fantasy and creativity can burst out in the most apparently mundane of lives and places.
Following a week of intense judging in New Delhi, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, organised by the Commonwealth Foundation and supported by the Macquarie Group Foundation, has once again propelled two rising stars into the literary spotlight. This is the first major prize the two writers have won. As highly acclaimed new international authors, Rana Dasgupta and Glenda Guest now join some of the biggest names in modern fiction in winning the Prize, including Louis de Bernieres, Vikram Seth and Andrea Levy.
Eight finalists from different regions of the Commonwealth made it to the rigorous final stage in India this week. While their books underwent the close scrutiny of the judges, the writers went head-to-head in a series of public events, readings and visits to schools, colleges and community projects.
In its 24th year, the critically acclaimed Commonwealth Writers’ Prize offers an exceptional opportunity for new writers to demonstrate their talent and for authors already on the literary scene to enhance their reputation. The Best First Book winner claims £5,000 while the writer of the Best Book wins £10,000.
“I congratulate the winners for their outstanding books and extraordinary literary talent. The two books chosen by the judges are ones that take us on unexpected journeys and challenge our conventional assumptions. The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize leads the way in spotting new literary icons and promoting literacy as a way to empower people and improve life chances. I am proud that the Commonwealth Foundation is helping to take these works to a global audience to enrich the lives of millions.”
Director of the Commonwealth Foundation and head of the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, Dr Mark Collins
“The winning books are groundbreaking in taking readers outside their usual comfort zone. Bringing new social and political realities to a wider audience, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize is truly unique in advancing cross-cultural collaboration, dialogue and understanding. It has been an honour and a delight to reward such exceptional and powerful storytelling.”
Nicholas Hasluck, Chair of the judging panel
David Clarke, Chairman of the Macquarie Group Foundation, the main sponsor of the Prize, commented:
"These compelling works by Rana Dasgupta and Glenda Guest rightly deserve to be acknowledged internationally. The Macquarie Group Foundation is delighted to support the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in recognising great literature and new literary talent; we congratulate the winners and wish all the authors who have taken part this year every success in the future."
Rana Dasgupta was born in Canterbury in the UK and now lives in New Delhi. His first book, Tokyo Cancelled, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Glenda Guest grew up in Western Australia and currently lives in Australia’s Blue Mountains. She teaches at Macquarie and Griffith Gold Coast universities.
Notes to Editors
1. The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, established in 1987, is organised and funded by the Commonwealth Foundation with the support of the Macquarie Group Foundation. The Commonwealth Foundation is an intergovernmental body working to help civil society organisations promote democracy, development and cultural understanding in Commonwealth countries.
2. The Macquarie Group Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Macquarie Group Limited, a global provider of banking, financial, advisory, investment and fund management services. The Foundation is one of the leading benefactors to the community sector and in the year to 31 March 2009, together with Macquarie Group staff, it donated $A26 million to more than 900 not-for-profit organisations around the world.
3. The finalists for Best Book and Best First Book in each of the four Commonwealth Regions: Africa, Caribbean and Canada, South Asia and Europe, and South East Asia and Pacific were:
AfricaAdaobi Tricia Nwaubeni from Nigeria won Best First Book for I Do Not Come to You by Chance and Marié Heese from South Africa won Best Book for The Double Crown.
Caribbean and CanadaShandi Mitchell from Canada won Best First Book for Under This Unbroken Sky and Michael Crummey from Canada won Best Book for Galore.
South Asia and EuropeDaniyal Mueenuddin from Pakistan won Best First Book for In Other Rooms, Other Wonders and Rana Dasgupta from the UK won Best Book for Solo.
South East Asia and PacificGlenda Guest from Australia won Best First Book for Siddon Rock and Albert Wendt from Samoa won Best Book for The Adventures of Vela.
4. The 2010 pan-Commonwealth panel of judges which decided the overall winners was chaired by Hon Justice Nicholas Hasluck AM (Chair of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize), and comprises the four regional chairpersons: Elinor Sisulu (Africa); Antonia MacDonald-Smythe (Caribbean and Canada); Muneeza Shamsie (South Asia and Europe); and Anne Brewster (South East Asia and Pacific), along with the New Delhi-based local judge Makarand Paranjape, twice regional chair of the Prize.
5. The £10,000 Best Book Prize in 2009 was awarded to Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas for The Slap. The Best First Book Prize of £5,000 went to Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif for A Case of Exploding Mangoes. The prizes were announced at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival in New Zealand. The 2008 overall winner was Lawrence Hill of Canada for The Book of Negroes.
6. For further information about the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize:http://www.commonwealthfoundation.com/cwp
India:Mita KapurSIYAHITel: + 91 141 2245908E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura BrodieTel:+ 91 991 086 7263E: email@example.com
Outside India:Marcie ShaoulCommunications ManagerCommonwealth FoundationTel: +44 (0) 20 7747 6582E: firstname.lastname@example.org
General information:Fareena ChaudhryCommonwealth FoundationTel: +91 995 897 0664 E: email@example.com