Anuradha Roy has been awarded the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2016 for her "stark and unflinching novel", Sleeping on Jupiter (MacLehose Press).
The $50,000 (£35,000) prize was awarded at the Fairway Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka.
Chair of the jury panel, journalist Mark Tully, said the judges chose Sleeping on Jupiter because of its "elegance, flair and readability."
He added: "It raises many issues succinctly and with commendable economy of words. The South Asian setting is described faithfully and evocatively. Among the issues raised are the power of memory and myth, religious hypocrisy, sexuality, abuse and other forms of violence. The novel contains powerful portraits of both major and minor characters. We believe this book will be a source of inspiration to other writers.”
He also declared the shortlist "outstanding" and added that choosing a winner was "particularly difficult."
Also shortlisted were Akhil Sharma's Family Life (Faber & Faber, UK), K.R. Meera's Hangwoman (Translated by J Devika; Penguin, India), Mirza Waheed's The Book of Gold Leaves (Viking/Penguin India), Neel Mukherjee's The Lives of Others (Vintage/Penguin Random House, UK) and Raj Kamal Jha's She Will Build Him A City (Bloomsbury, India).
The judging panel included Dennis Walder, emeritus professor of literature at the Open University; bookseller and literary coordinator, Karen Allman; Neloufer de Mel, senior professor of english at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka; and Bangladeshi writer Syed Manzoorul Islam.
Surina Narula, MBE and co-founder of the DSC Prize, expressed her “heartfelt congratulations” to Roy for winning.
She said: “The winning novel highlights the changing dynamics in South Asian life and culture in a unique way. It must have been a tough task for the jury members to choose from the six exceptional contenders and arriving at the eventual winner as each one of the novels represents the very best in South Asian fiction writing. Completing six successful years, the DSC Prize remains focused on recognizing and showcasing the immense talent writing about the South Asian region and bringing it to the larger global audience.”
Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, prime minister of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, presented the award to Roy and commented on the importance of South Asian literature and the crucial role it can play to improve the lives of the people living in the region. The prize is specifically focused on South Asian writing irrespective of the ethnicity of the author’s origin as long as the work is based on the South Asian region and its people.
Last year, Jhumpa Lahiri won the DSC Prize for The Lowland, published in the UK by Bloomsbury.