Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 22, 2019

2019 DSC Prize winner: Half the Night is Gone, by Amitabha Bagchi

Last night at the 8th IME Nepal Literature Festival, the Hon Pradeep Gyawali Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal presented the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature to Amitabha Bagchi for his novel Half the Night is Gone.  The prize is valued at US $25,000.

South Asia for the purposes of the prize is defined as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan.

This is the blurb for the book, via Goodreads:

The celebrated Hindi novelist Vishwanath is heartbroken by the recent loss of his son in an accident. The tragedy spurs him to write a novel set in the household of Lala Motichand. It follows the lives of the wealthy lala and his three sons: Self-confident Dinanath, the true heir to Motichand’s mercantile temperament, lonely Diwanchand, uninterested in business and steeped in poetry; and illegitimate Makhan Lal, a Marx-loving schoolteacher kept to the periphery of his father’s life. In an illuminating act of self-reflection, Vishwanath, the son of a cook for a rich sethji, also tells the story of the lala’s personal servant, Mange Ram and his son, Parsadi. Fatherhood, brotherhood and childhood, love, loyalty and poetry all come to the fore as sons and servants await the lala’s death. By writing about mortality and family, Vishwanath confronts the wreckage of his own life while seeking to make sense of the new India that came into being after independence. Spellbinding and penetrating, Half the Night Is Gone raises questions of religion, literature and society that speak to our fractured times.

Already there is talk of Bagchi as a Nobel Prize Laureate…

This was the longlist, with the shortlist highlighted:

  • Akil Kumarasamy: Half Gods (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, USA) 
  • Amitabha Bagchi: Half the Night is Gone (Juggernaut Books, India)
  • Devi S. Laskar: The Atlas of Reds and Blues (Counterpoint Press, USA) 
  • Fatima Bhutto: The Runaways (Viking, Penguin Random House, India, and Viking, Penguin Random House, UK) 
  • Jamil Jan Kochai: 99 Nights in Logar (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury, India & UK, and Viking, Penguin Random House, USA)
  • Madhuri Vijay: The Far Field (Grove Press, Grove Atlantic, USA)
  • Manoranjan Byapari: There’s Gunpowder in the Air (Translated by Arunava Sinha, Eka, Amazon Westland, India)
  • Mirza Waheed: Tell Her Everything (Context, Amazon Westland, India) 
  • Nadeem Zaman: In the Time of the Others (Picador, Pan Macmillan, India) 
  • Perumal Murugan: A Lonely Harvest (Translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan, Penguin Books, Penguin Random House, India) 
  • Rajkamal Jha: The City and the Sea (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House, India)
  • Sadia Abbas: The Empty Room (Zubaan Publishers, India)
  • Shubhangi Swarup: Latitudes of Longing (HarperCollins, HarperCollins, India) 
  • T. D. Ramakrishnan: Sugandhi alias Andal Devanayaki (Translated by Priya K. Nair, Harper Perennial, HarperCollins, India)
  • Tova Reich: Mother India (Macmillan, Pan Macmillan, India)

As usual, it’s not easy to source the winner from Australia.  It never ceases to surprise me that Australian booksellers are so slow to realise that (a) there is a huge and growing community from the sub-continent in Australia and (b) they are, as a community, super-keen readers.  So *guilty frown* I have had to buy a copy of Half the Night is Gone from the Big Behemoth that overworks and underpays its staff.

For previous winners of the DSC prize, see my reviews of

2012: Chinaman, the Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka
2013: Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
2015 The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri
2017 The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam


  1. Looks like a must read Lisa.


    • I like the sound of it..I am rarely disappointed by books from this part of the world.


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