Wandering Falcon flies Pakistani writer close to literary peak

Map of South Asia in native languages.

Map of South Asia in native languages. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Ali Imran

Jamil Ahmad is a classic example of it’s-never-too-late story. At the ripe grand age of 78, he has suddenly zoomed into prominence on Pakistan’s literary horizon with a series of pulsating short stories.

The Wandering Falcon, a collection of short stories by Ahmad, a former civil servant, has earned high praise from several quarters since its publication last year.

Ahmad has made his way to top six picks for 2013 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Ahmad’s world of stories is peopled by characters from tribal areas of Pakistan, which have very much been in news owing to the fight against militants along Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The other Pakistani in the select group is journalist and author Mohammed Hanif, who is already an acclaimed writer. This time he is among the chief candidates for his novel “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti.”

游隼 Peregrine Falcon

游隼 Peregrine Falcon (Photo credit: Hiyashi Haka)

The authors, shortlisted for 2013 award, were revealed on November 20 in London.According to the DSC, the prize carries an award of INR 2,800,000/GBP £32,000/USD $50,000 given to one international author (or shared with their translator) who has written the best novel thematically linked to the South Asian region. The final prize will be announced during the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival in India in January 2013, and has grown to be a fixture in the international publishing calendar, due to the significance of South Asia’s rapidly expanding book market.

This year’s jury, chaired by Nobel Prize-nominated writer and academic K. Satchidanandan (former Chief-Executive of India’s National Academy of Letters), undertook intense deliberation of a longlist consisting of 16 books, the website for the literary prize says.

The jury featured a number of leading literary figures: writer and critic, Muneeza Shamsie (Managing Editor of The Oxford Companion to the Literatures of Pakistan), Rick Simonson (Senior Buyer, Founder, and Co-Director of Elliott Bay’s internationally-renowned author reading programme), Suvani Singh (Festival Director of Kathmandu Literary Jatra), and arts entrepreneur, Eleanor O’Keeffe (former Director of the Jaipur Literary Festival; Co-Founder of the Palestinian Festival of Literature, and cultural organisation, 5×15).

The six short-listed writers include  Pakistani Jamil Ahmad: The Wandering Falcon, Bangladesh’s Tahmima Anam: The Good Muslim, India’s Amitav Ghosh for River of Smoke, Mohammed Hanif for Our Lady of Alice Bhatti,  Uday Prakash for The Walls of Delhi (Translated by Jason Grunebaum; UWA Publishing, W. Australia and Jeet Thayilfor Narcopolis (

This year, there were a total of 81 entries for the prize , from authors and translators across India, Australia, UK, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, reflecting the importance of South Asia’s rapidly expanding book market.

The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is sponsored by DSC Limited, an Indian infrastructure and construction company.


Categories: Arts and Life, Books

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