Jeet Thayil’s debut novel Narcopolis has made it to the Man Booker short list. While Thayil has published several books of his own poetry and anthologies of poetry, and has written an opera, aside from recording an album (as part of the group Sridhar / Thayil), this is his first novel. Narcopolis will be up against Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists, Deborah Levy’s Swimming Home, Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies, Alison Moore’s The Lighthouse and Will Self’s Umbrella. The winner will be announced a little over a month from now, on the 16th October.
The Shakti Bhatt First Book prize announced its short list a few days ago. The books that made it: Tamasha in Bandargaon by Navneet Jagannathan, The Purple Line by Priyamvada Purushottam, The King in Exile by Sudha Shah, The Inexplicable Unhappiness of Ramu Hajjam by Taj Hassan, Taj Mahal Foxtrot by Naresh Fernandes (incidentally, one of our picks for books to look forward to in 2012 from our 2011 year-end issue), and Calcutta Exile by Bunny Suraiya. The winner will be announced in late November.
And the Crossword Book Awards announced the short-list for one of its categories, the Popular Award. The nominations are purely on the basis of sales, and the eventual winners are chosen based on a poll that’s partly online and partly real world (you’d have to go to a Crossword outlet to vote). The short-listed books are Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat, The Secret of The Nagas by Amish Tripathi, Women & the Weight Loss Tamasha by Rujuta Diwekar, Can Love Happen Twice? by Ravinder Singh, The Incredible Banker by Ravi Subramanian, River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh, The Habit of Winning by Prakash Iyer, Get To the Top by Suhel Seth, I Have a Dream by Rashmi Bansal, and The Winning Way by Harsha & Anita Bhogle. The winner will be announced on 18th October, with the rest of the awards. Watch this space for the short lists in the other categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Translation and Children’s literature), whenever they’re out.
For the Man Booker, I’m backing Narcopolis, I have haven’t read the others, and because Jeet Thayil is a good friend. For the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize, I’ve only read Taj Mahal Foxtrot, and Naresh Fernandes is a buddy too, so no prizes on who I’m rooting for. And the for the Crossword Book Awards popular prize, I haven’t a clue. But I’m willing to stick my neck out and say that the only one from this list to feature in the short lists for the other categories will be River of Smoke. If I were the betting type, I’d also be willing to wager that Narcopolis and Taj Mahal Foxtrot will find themselves in the Crossword short lists too. But no, I don’t bet.
Have you read any of these books? Which ones do you think will win in their respective contests? Tell us about them in the comments.