Lahiri sees off Rushdie in Commonwealth heat

From The Guardian:

Jhumpa_lahiri_460x276 Salman Rushdie's novel The Enchantress of Florence has missed out on a major literary award yet again, after he was pipped to the post by Jhumpa Lahiri in the regional heats for the Commonwealth writers' prize. Lahiri's collection of short stories Unaccustomed Earth, which track from Seattle to Thailand to India as they explore family life and the immigrant experience, also beat Rushdie's fellow Booker contender Philip Hensher to win the Europe and South Asia regional heat. Chair of the judges, Professor Makarand Paranjape said the Bengali-American writer had faced “some very tough competition” from both Hensher's “magisterial survey of English suburbia”, and Rushdie's “fecund and fierce imagination”.

In the end, however, Lahiri's “lyrical, meticulously crafted prose, with the moving and memorable treatment of the diasporic experience coupled with her significant achievement in extending the form of the short story, won the day,” he said.

Mohammed Hanif was a much easier choice, the judges said, for the first book category. He emerged quickly as clear favourite for his novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes, a darkly comic tour de force which takes as its starting point the plane crash which killed Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul Haq. Praised for its “amazingly detailed and plausible portrayal of historical events”, as well as its “great political insight and stylistic virtuosity”, the novel is the first Pakistani book to be a regional winner. Hanif said he was “especially pleased” to win the prize, particularly given the strength of his fellow nominees, who included Sulaiman Addonia for The Consequences of Love, and Joe Dunthorne for Submarine.

More here.