Alex Clark, Chair of the Encore Judges said: ‘We were immensely impressed by the ambition and depth of Neel Mukherjee’s second novel, in which a suburban house in 1960s Calcutta comes to reflect the political and social convulsions of an entire society. Ranging from the mass hunger of the Second World War to independence and the emergence of the Maoist Naxalbari movement, Mukherjee chronicles these extraordinary years in Indian history through the piercingly observed story of one family. As we read further into the story of the Ghoshes – their lives thrown into crisis by an absconding activist son – we became increasingly convinced of the book’s immense qualities and its ability to inform and provoke at the same time as it entertains. We are excited to see what Mukherjee will produce next, and hope very much that the Encore Award will encourage him in his writing life.’.
On being presented with his Award, Neel Mukherjee said: ‘The Encore Award is the coolest and the most original literary prize in town. It is a burst of light in what is usually considered to be dark, damp, bleak territory — the dreaded second novel. I’m thrilled by my good fortune and, looking at the list of past winners, both humbled and deeply honoured.’