Shortlisted for this year’s DSC Prize writer Nayomi Munaweera shares her thoughts on what the anticipation feels like till the jury unveils the winner on January 18.
Q: What does winning the DSC Prize mean to you?
A: It’s a tremendous honor to be short-listed for this award with a debut novel. I think I’m the only one on the list of six with a first book. When I started writing this book 10 years ago I never thought it’d be published let alone be up for the awards so of course this is a huge and unexpected surprise.
Q: Do you think you have a chance of bagging it?
A: As a first time novelist, I do think of myself as the dark horse. It would be incredible to win but at the end of the day, writers don’t spend years on books with the goal of winning prizes, we do it because we are compelled to tell a certain story and this was very much the case for me with ‘Island of a Thousand Mirrors’. It would be amazing to win but this is not the impetus for writing and I would have kept writing even if the book was never published and no one ever saw my work.
Q: What do you think of the work of the other nominees?
A: They are all tremendous writers. I have nothing but gratitude to be included on a list with writers that have been working for decades and some who have huge international reputations, movies based on their books, etc. I’m heading to Jaipur in the next few days to attend the Jaipur Literary Festival and I can’t wait to meet all of them there.
Q: How had the feedback been towards the book?
A: The book is currently out in Sri Lanka and India and is coming out in the US in September. I have had a lot of feedback from readers, especially on Amazon where the reviews have been very gratifying to read.
It’s always wonderful to have a reader to tell me that he or she was moved by the book. This is doubly true with Sri Lankan readers because the book is about Sri Lanka and although it’s doing well abroad I love hearing what Sri Lankan readers think of it.
As for judges, I was in London for the short-list announcement and it was great to hear the judges talk about the strength of each book and why they picked it. It was also amazing to hear an excerpt of the book read by someone other than myself (at the short-list announcement) I had never had this experience before and quite enjoyed it.
Q: Are you currently working on another book?
A: Yes I am. It’s a very different book, but it’s too early for me to talk about. ‘Island of a Thousand Mirrors’ will be published in America in September. The second book will follow that in the next few years.
Ameena Hussein (Publisher)
Writing is not a new experience to her because she herself is a renowned writer. However this week she is in the limelight because she is the owner of Perera Hussein Publishing House which published ‘Island of a Thousand Mirrors. Here is a word from the publisher.
“I am thrilled that Nayomi’s book has been recognized for what it is. ‘Island of a Thousand Mirrors’ is an excellent novel that is able to stand on its own in the international arena.
“ I am keeping everything crossed in the hope that it will bag the DSC prize but even if it doesnt, it shouldn’t detract from the fact that it is still a good book and that being shortlisted in the company of other excellent authors is a prize in itself!”