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The TLM New Writing Award

    first impressions
  Vol VI : issue 3

  Jayant Sankrityayana
  Kaushik Basu
  Altaf Tyrewala
  Shilpa Paralkar
  Parismita Singh
  Only in Print
  New Writing Award
  Current Issue

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Bronze sculpture by K.S. RADHAKRISHNAN

Dear Reader,

Like takeaway coffee cups, maybe this book should have gone out with a statutory warning: “Caution, contents may be hot.” In this special celebration number, we bring you the very best new writing to appear in The Little Magazine in the years 2000-2005.

From its inception six years ago, The Little Magazine has pursued two major interests: to make the best contemporary literature from the South Asian languages available in English for wider access, and to create a platform for the best new writing from this region. This spring, we have taken these projects to their final conclusion, instituting two honours to recognise excellence in literature old and new.

The Little Magazine Salam (that’s South Asian Literature Award for the Masters) is being given away today to Vijay Tendulkar for Marathi drama, Kamala Das or Madhavikutty for Malayalam fiction and Shamsur Rahman of Bangladesh for Bengali poetry. Along with the masters, Jayant Sankrityayana, an automobile designer from Pune, is receiving The Little Magazine New Writing Award for a delightful little fantasy and science fiction genre piece called ‘Tsunami’, which appeared in this magazine in 2004.

Over the last six years, The Little Magazine has become the first port of call for new writers from our region and indeed, the only permanent venue where they are assured of the attention of their peers and professional writers and editors. The 25 stories and plays in this volume comprise the shortlist for the 2006 New Writing Award, culled from the several thousand submissions that have landed in our mailboxes — electronic and postal — in half a decade. Only submissions from South Asia were considered for this award, and some excellent stories by new writers had to be left out because they were from other regions. Unfortunately, most of the translated stories didn’t make it to the final 25, although a couple of stories from Bengali and Malayalam came very close. There is only one translated work in this shortlist, and that is a play. The final jury comprising the writers Keki N. Daruwalla, Lakshmi Kannan and Upamanyu Chatterjee unanimously chose ‘Tsunami’ as the award-winning work.

Interestingly, most of these new authors — not just the award winner — first saw their work in print in the pages of The Little Magazine. That’s the way we like our new writing, so fresh that even the names of the authors are new to us. And we are pleasantly surprised at the quality of their first-time work. Over the years, a number of TLM’s new writers have been picked up by big publishers and now have books in print. Clearly, first impressions are not always misleading.

So, like the microwave says when it’s done, “Enjoy”. And do remember that coffee-cup warning: the contents are indeed hot.


March 27, 2006