Crossword has confirmed the shortlist and sent me the link to it, but unfortunately this appears to be an orphaned page and there don’t seem to be any links to it from Crossword’s homepage, or at least I couldn’t discover any way of navigating to it from there. If you click this link you can see the page, but you have to know the URl beforehand. The page also appears to be opaque to Google, though Google often slips up; these days it doesn’t list this blog in searches, for instance.
In the meantime there has been almost complete media silence about the award. Compare this with the tizzy into which the Indian press goes over the Booker shortlist if there is anyone with a vaguely South Asian flavour on it, and sometime even when there isn’t. Reporting in India via the agencies dwells on the Booker judges panel, the controversies, and even the odds at Ladbrokes for the various shortlistees to win it. Given that the Vodafone Crossword Book Award (it really needs a catchier name) claims to be the Indian Booker, the Indian media’s neglect of it is a little puzzling. Is it simply not exciting enough for Indian journos to waste column inches/spots on it? Granted that Indian writers in India are not celebs (the only celebs to have won it have been absentee NRIs) surely the fact that this is the only pan-Indian non-state-funded literary prize in town should count for something? Nevertheless, it is still lower in the media firmament than a prize which no Indian* can win.
There is also, according to the Crossword site, supposed to be a popular award chosen from among the shortlistees by public vote, but there is no indication of how the votes are registered. The award ceremony is on 3 July, so that doesn’t leave a lot of time for people to vote. Maybe they vote by SMS during the show, like Indian Idol?
Nail biting stuff.
Having said that, I should add that the Crossword Book Award is to be commended for awarding a prize for translation as well as original writing. Translation is hugely important and terrifically neglected in this country. Kudos to them for promoting it. Now if only someone other than us long/short listees and our publishers and friends knew or cared about the awards…!
We still have a long way to go.
*Read writer published in India.