Physical Map of Asia

When we travel or go on a holiday, we look forward to discovering spaces and cultures new to us. Here is a list of ten books that can vicariously give us a flavour of diverse cultures in the same way. The selection zips across Asia collecting books that have won Man Booker Prize, Man Asian Literary prize and more.

The books sail from Philippines to China, Mongolia, India, Japan, Vietnam to satisfy the fussiest of palates with fiction from different cultures.

Books by award winning and popular writer Haruki Murakami of Japan; Man Asian literary prize winner Bi Feiyu of China; Man Booker prize winning writer Arvind Adiga from India and the last and only female winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, Korean writer Shin Kyung-sook , are featured in this listing.

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CyrusMistry“I am not really interested in publicising myself. I realise that the industry is so competitive, so the writer has to promote the book. You can’t be as reserved as someone like Samuel Beckett; he’s a figure I would really like to be. He thought his work would speak for itself and it did,” says Cyrus Mistry, who has often been referred to as reticent as he chooses to stay away from the limelight. Every work of his has either won awards or has been critically acclaimed, from Doongaji House , his first play to Chronicle Of A Corpse Bearer , winner of this year’s DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

He has worked as a freelance journalist and written screenplays that have won several awards. He wrote his first novel The Radiance Of Ashes in 2005. His next novel Chronicle Of A Corpse Bearer brings to light the community of Parsi corpse bearers, the khandhias, who are relegated to the margins of society in Mumbai.

While the undercurrent is grim and even morbid, Cyrus Mistry notches up another high with this anthology of short stories, writes Aishwarya Gupta: Tehelka

cyrus_passionflowersAs it reads on the book jacket, a classic violet Bena Sareen work, Passion Flower: Seven Stories of Derangement is quite certainly another triumph for Cyrus Mistry. The jacket also calls the seven-story-compilation ‘disturbing’, which one might find oneself in disagreement with, in parts. An odd theme of derangement runs through the seven stories, all of which are unsettling yet mildly comforting. Perhaps the comfort stems from the fact that the reader is attracted to the author’s insight into the grey lanes of an individual’s mind. Even ordinary people are constantly susceptible to emotions and thoughts that they seldom entertain brazenly, lest they disregard the standards of societal appropriateness and accepted behaviour.

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The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) has announced a partnership with the world’s leading literary award for South Asian writing, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature.

According to the UWRF organisers, the partnership will commence with Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2014, and will involve the commitment to bring each year’s winner to the Festival in Ubud, Bali. In 2014, the festival will host acclaimed author Cyrus Mistry who won the DSC Prize 2014.

Derived from a true story, Cyrus Mistry’s extraordinary DSC Prize-winning novel Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer is a moving account of tragic love affair involving the near invisible community of Parsi corpse bearers whose job it is to carry bodies of the deceased to the Towers of Silence.

Cyrus Mistry tells Time Out why he can now devote his time to writing without fretting about odd jobs: TimeOut Delhi

Cyrus_MISTRYCyrus Mistry – not to be confused with the chairman of the Tata Group with the same name – made headlines this year for being awarded $50,000 for his second novel, Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer, at the Jaipur Literature Festival. The DSC prize for South Asian literature is a generous sum of money, especially for a writer from this part of the world, where writing books is almost unanimously considered an abysmal career option. It has not only catapulted this reticent and soft-spoken author, playwright and scriptwriter to fame, but it has also ensured that Mistry can commit to writing full-time.

Cyrus Mistry, winner of the 2014 DSC prize for South Asian Literature, and younger brother of the famous novelist Rohinton Mistry, is one of the most interesting but least celebrated Indians writing in English: The Indian Express

CyrusMistryThat’s Cyrus Mistry?” asked a prosperous-looking gentleman, pointing an incredulous finger at the frail, rather ascetic figure holding court in the Durbar Hall at the Jaipur Literature Festival. “That’s not the Tata Group guy! Sorry, not interested.” He turned and left grandly, as if spurning a charlatan.

But he was probably kicking himself just hours later last Saturday when Cyrus Mistry won the DSC prize for South Asian Literature, worth about Rs 30 lakh, for his novel Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer.