Italian honour for
Rupa Bajwa, Siddharth
Dhanvant Shanghvi and Anita Desai win the XXIV Grinzane Cavour awards
was only after coming to Italy that I learnt that the book had not only
been selected by a jury, but it had also been voted upon by school and
university students. I am grateful that a book set in Amritsar had
connected with Italian readers. That really made me very happy,"
said Rupa Bajwa.
Her novel, The Sari
Shop has won acclaim in India and abroad. Its Italian translation Il
negozio di sari, published by Feltrinelli, was among the books for
foreign fiction that were voted upon by school juries of 12 Italian high
schools with that country and by students in Italian high schools in
Belgrade, Berlin, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Fiume, Il Cairo, Paris, Prague
and the University of Moscow, Salamanca, Stockholm and Tokyo.
history, this year, three Indians bagged the XXIV Grinzane Cavour
awards. The celebrated veteran Anita Desai was honoured for her lifetime
of literary achievement, while Bajwa and Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi
were awarded for their first books. The coveted prize is Italy’s major
literary recognition and till now, V. S. Naipaul had been the only ‘Indian’
to have received the award.
The €5,000 Debutant
Author Prize category was swept by the two young Indian writers, Bajwa
and Shanghvi, the former for The Sari Shop the latter for his
book, L’ultima canzone (The Last Song of Dusk), which
has been published in Italy by Garzanti.
Both the authors’
works have been well recognised. The Sari Shop has been published
in the UK, the USA and India in English. Besides Italian, it has been
published in Dutch and is being translated into other European
languages, including Greek, Portuguese, French, Serbian and Spanish. It
was also selected for the Best First Book Award, 2005, in the
Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Eurasia.
Shanghvi’s book too
has been published in the UK, the USA and India in English, and
translated into Italian. He also won the coveted Betty Trask Award in
It was only fitting
that the international Una Vita Per La Letterature (A life for
literature) prize went to the veteran novelist, short-story writer and
children’s author Anita Desai. Her novels include Fire on the
Mountain (1977), Clear Light of Day (1980), In Custody
(1984) and Fasting, Feasting (1999). All of them were shortlisted
for the Booker Prize. The Village by the Sea (1982) has won The
Guardian Children’s Fiction Award. She has also won the Winifred
Holtby Memorial Prize. Anita Desai lives in the US, where she is the
John E. Burchard Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Cambridge, MA.
superwinners this year are Italy’s Alessandro Perissinotto, To My
Judge (Al mio giudice, Rizzoli) and Rosa Montero (Spain) The
Mad of the House (La pazza di casa, Frassinelli). While the
other prizewinners had been announced in January, the two superwinners
were declared on Saturday, June 18, during a prize giving ceremony at
the Grinzane Cavour Castle, Cuneo, Piedmont, Italy. Eminent Italian and
foreign authors attended the event.
The foreign novel
winners were Thomas Hettche (Germany), Rosa Montero (Spain), Duong Thu
Huong (Vietnam). The Italian novel winners include Eraldo Affinati,
Maria Pace Ottieri and Alessandro Perissinotto.
Speaking exclusively to
The Tribune after the prize-distribution ceremony, Rupa Bajwa
said: "It was very nice to meet writers from other countries, of
different backgrounds, writing in different languages."
Asked to describe the
event, she said she was happy to have met so many people engaged in
diverse literary pursuits. "It was like a Punjabi wedding, a lot of
eating and drinking and celebrations that lasted for four days,"
taking a backseat among most people, the aim of the award is to take the
younger generation closer to literature and particularly to contemporary
fiction," a spokesperson of the Premio Grinzane Cavour said.