The International Dublin Literary Award announced its (exceptionally long, as usual) longlist of 150 titles for the 2018 prize on November 6. The world’s most valuable annual literary prize for a single work of fiction published in English comes with a cash component of €100,000 (Rs 75 lakh) and arrives at its longlist by asking libraries across the world to nominate novels. This year’s nominations include 48 novels in translation and works by authors from 40 countries.
Four Indian novels are among the 150 titles in the running for next year’s prize which will be announced on June 13, 2018. They include Karan Mahajan’s acclaimed The Association of Small Bombs, Namita Gokhale’s vivid Things to Leave Behind, The Parcel by Vancouver-based Anosh Irani, which explores the lives of sex workers in Mumbai, and a rather unusual entry in the form of a “science fiction romance” novel titled The Extra-Terrestrial Delivery by Sudipta Das.
The note on the hitherto unknown book from its publisher White Falcon Publishing (a self-publishing company) describes the book’s plot as one that “traces the evolutionary path of the ascent of the alien Hoo race, on a far away planet.” “In this work, the author has wonderfully combined the entire spectrum, from physics to metaphysics, and merged poetry into prose to intriguingly illustrate the big picture,” it says. The author Sudipta Das, who has written two other books in the “Planet Hoola” series “endeavours to burst some of the fractional bubbles that we inadvertently create around ourselves, and to guide us towards the all-encompassing Whole.”
The backstory of its nomination? “The author of the book requested us to enter it for the prize and after we found out one of our earlier nominations was not eligible, we got the opinion of literary experts among India International Centre members and requested the Dublin Prize to consider it,” said Dr S Majumdar, Chief Librarian of the India International Centre Library, which also nominated Things to Leave Behind.
In 2016, another nomination by the India International Centre, Akhil Sharma’s novel Family Lif , took home the prize. Realistically however, the top contender for the 2018 award, which will be selected by a five person jury, remains Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer-winning The Underground Railroad, which received the maximum number of nominations from 15 libraries worldwide.