In what can be called a proud moment for the country, Indian writer Anuradha Roy has won the $50,000 literary prize at the Fairway Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka for her book ‘Sleeping on Jupiter’, which is about the malaise of sexual abuse in India. Anuradha lost out last year’s Man Booker Prize, but, this year, she has hit a home run in the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.
On behalf of the jury, Mark Tully said, “We had a shortlist of six outstanding books. We chose Sleeping on Jupiter because of its elegance, flair and readability. 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.”
The book revolves around the story of Nomi, which is set in Jarmuli, a city of temples and a centre of healing on the edge of the ocean. Nomi, a young girl is taken from her family and finds herself in an ashram, overseen by a charismatic guru. But guruji’s charm masks a predatory menace and the young girl faces danger.
After 20 years, Nomi returns to Jarmuli with a documentary film crew. All has changed in a town that she no longer knows, as tourists and market traders bustle, banter and chase their dreams amidst the temples of her youth.
Seeking the truth about what happened to her and her family, Nomi finds herself chasing shadows in a town that has reinvented itself. But when she returns to the ashram that haunts her dreams, she discovers some scars cannot be washed away.
The co-founder of the DSC Prize, Surina Narula, said “The winning novel highlights the changing dynamics in South Asian life and culture in a unique way.”Besides this award, Anuradha has earlier won the Economist Crossword Prize for Fiction for her novel ‘The Folded Earth’.