Rana Dasgupta and Danyal Mueenuddin win regional Commonwealth Prizes

Karachi, 11 March. The Pakistani-American author, Danyal Mueenuddin won the regional (Europe and South Asia) Commonwealth Writers Prize 2010 for the Best First Book for his story collection Other Rooms Other Wonders set mostly in Southern Punjab where he farms. The judges considered the book “remarkable for its clear, exact prose and its wide scope … the short sharp pithy
observations and details” according to Muneeza Shamsie the Regional Chairperson of the CWP 2010.

The Indian-British author Rana Dagupta, won The Best Book Award for his novel Solo which revolves around the memories and daydreams of Ulrich, a blind, 100 year old man in Sofia and was chosen for “its innovation, ambition and courage as well as its elegant prose”

The winners were announced by the chief guest, the distinguished Urdu poet, Fahmida Riaz at a ceremony hosted by Muneeza Shamsie in collaboration with the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. Fahmida Riaz described Pakistanis writing in English as the “introductory cards” that writers of older Pakistani languages “send to the outside world” and who carry a great responsibility because they speak to audiences from the US to Australia. She reminded them of the difficulty such a role demands in today’s turbulent times and urged them to remain true to themselves as

Muneeza Shamsie said the Commonwealth Foundation which organizes the CWP with the support of the Macquarie Group Foundation of Australia, believed that the appreciation of different cultures is essential to international
understanding. She asserted also, the important links between Pakistan’s different languages and between literature, drama, the arts and the media.

Aisha Dar, who heads the new Liberal Arts Department at the IVS spoke of the importance of a liberal arts education “which fosters creativity, critical thinking, effective communication, strength of character and a spirit of inquiry. It also deepens the specialized knowledge of a discipline with a comprehensive world view.”

The dynamic talk show host Ayesha Tammy Haq moderated.  Mohammed Hanif who became in 2009, the first Pakistani to win the CWP entertained the audience with readings from his novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes;
his wife, the accomplished actor Nimra Bucha read from Other Rooms Other Wonders and the evening led up to the renowned Talat Hussain’s reading from Solo.

The system of regional judging which is unique to this prize, divides the Commonwealth up into four regions, all of whom announced their winners today in five different cities – in Grenada in the Caribbean, in Cape Town, South
Africa, in Sydney, Australia and in Karachi Pakistan, as well as Glasgow, UK, the host city of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. These eight regional winners will now go to Delhi, which will be hosting the Commonwealth Games later this year and has been chosen for the final round of the CWP 2010 to select the overall winners from these regional winners on April 12.