The shortlist for the 2018 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize, a literary award that celebrates debut writers, was announced on Thursday. Curated by writers Jeet Thayil and Arshia Sattar, the shortlist of six titles includes four works of non-fiction and two novels.
Having won prestigious literary awards already, the fiction titles on the shortlist are Preti Taneja’s sweeping adaptation of King Lear, We That Are Young, which won the Desmond Elliot Prize in June and Deepak Unnikrishnan’s collection of magical-realist stories about migrant workers in the Gulf, Temporary People, the winer of the Hindu Prize 2017.
From a memoir of living with bipolar disorder to a searing personal history of caste, the four non-fiction titles on this year’s shortlist are: Shreevatsa Nevatia’s How To Travel Light, Aanchal Malhotra’s book about material memory from the partition, Remnants of A Separation, The Sensational Life and Death of Qandeel Baloch, about Pakistan’s slain social media star, by Sanam Maher and Sujatha Gidla’s Ants Among Elephants.
“In a world increasingly ‘broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls’, it’s unsurprising that this year’s Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize shortlist reflects the experience of the outsider, the one who does not fit because of sexuality, caste, class and gender and a hundred other real and imagined reasons,” the curators of the prize said.
Currently in its eleventh year, the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize comes with a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh and accepts entires across poetry, fiction, graphic novels, creative non-fiction (travel writing, autobiography, biography and narrative journalism), and drama. This year’s winner will be chosen from the six shortlisted titles by a panel of three judges comprising author and editor Githa Hariharan, poet and editor Sampurna Chattarji and author and journalist Raghu Karnad. The winning title will be announced in November.