Posted by: Lisa Hill | January 20, 2015

2014 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature – Shadow Jury winner

The Mirror of BeautyThe DSC South Asian prize for literature  is about to be announced so it is time for the Shadow Jury to reveal its shadow winner!

When the shortlist was announced in December, Stu from Winston’s Dad and Tara from Book Sexy and I formed a Shadow Jury to read and review all the books and choose our winner from among them.

The shortlisted titles were

While we thought that this is a great shortlist and we really loved Noontide Toll, in the end the winner we chose is

*drum roll*

The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi.

We chose it because it has the distinction of being the only title written in the author’s own language and then translated, and because it really is a great story.   It’s a sumptuous epic portrait of the Mughal Empire in its decline, and we really like its striking central character, Wahir Khanam, a woman who transcended the expectations of the culture in which she lived.  The book also introduces the wonders of Indian poetry to western readers and is a joy to read.

Many thanks to Stu and Tara for making our deliberations a pleasure!

Update: 23/1/15 The Lowland won the prize.  Worse than that,  the Sponsor (DSC) is pulling out, so now unless a new one is found, the Prize for South Asian Literature will go the same way as the defunct Man Asian Prize.



  1. So wonderful to know that ‘The Mirror of Beauty’ won the shadow DSC prize, Lisa! I remember you mentioning the book and the poetic duels in it. By an interesting coincidence, I went to the bookshop a few days back and saw Shamsur Rahman Faruqi’s new book ‘The Sun that Rose from the Earth’ and when I read more about the author, I read a description of ‘The Mirror of Beauty’ and remembered your description of it. Well, it is a book I would love to read, though it seems a bit chunky at around a 1000 pages. I am off to read your review of the book now :)


    • I wonder if we can get hold of The Sun that Rose from the Earth? For some reason we often find it difficult to buy books published in India, I remember when I was doing the Man Asian Shadow Jury some years back we had to contact the publisher and plead for copies to be sent just to us because the book was not available anywhere in Australia, the US or the UK.


      • If you would like to read ‘The Sun that Rose from the Earth’ and you are not able to find it, do let me know, Lisa. I can get it here and send it to you.


        • That’s very kind of you, Vishy. Hopefully his publishers will do the right thing and make it internationally available.


          • Wish it wins the DSC prize. Hopefully then his new book will also be widely available. In any case, do let me know.

            By the way, after reading your review, I ordered ‘The Mirror of Beauty’ yesterday :) Looking forward to reading it soon. Thanks for the excellent review and for inspiring me to read the book.


            • I can’t wait to see your review:)


              • It arrived yesterday, Lisa :) Read a few pages and it is nice. Looking forward to reading it :)


  2. I had missed your review of this but had to go off and read it right away. I do enjoy books set in India but am not sure I have enough energy for 900 pages especially if the characters get jumbled up since I am a bear with a very little brain


    • *chuckle*
      I pace myself with long books like this. Long summer holidays are best so that I can read more or less uninterrupted: that’s when I read Wolf Hall, The Man Who Loved Children, and this one.
      Of course now that I’m retired, *theoretically* I will have endless uninterrupted hours. *mutter* It doesn’t seem to have happened yet…


  3. […] Hill’s shadow jury for the DSC Prize picked The Mirror of Beauty by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, we’re still waiting for the actual jury to […]


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