Speaking Tiger author Sujit Saraf has won the 15th Raymond Crossword Book Award 2017 in the fiction category for his book Harilal & Sons.
Sujit Saraf is the author of the The Peacock Throne, which was shortlisted for the Encore Prize in London. His novel, The Confession of Sultana Daku, is being made into a motion picture. When not at his desk, he runs Naatak, an Indian theatre company in America for which he writes and directs plays and films.
‘[Saraf] has a gift for getting under the skin of a vast range of humanity.’ —The Guardian
In his novel Harilal & Sons, Sujit Saraf takes readers on an epic journey from Shekhavati in Rajasthan to the Calcutta of the early twentieth century, to Bogra in East Bengal, and to a village in Bihar in newly independent India. A sprawling, compulsively readable narrative, it follows the story of Harilal as he sets up Harilal & Sons, a shop selling jute, cotton, spices, rice, cigarettes and soap, that grows into a large enterprise. It is also the sweeping tale of his two wives and ever-burgeoning family of sons, daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren—the two strands of family and business inextricably fused because a Marwari’s life is defined by what he ‘deals in’. The novel ends in 1972, as eighty-five-year-old Hari lies dying in the great mansion that he built but never actually lived in. Surrounded by his vast family he wonders why he is still so attached to them. Why has he not reached the third stage in life, the stage of detachment, that his schoolmaster had said he would?
Spanning seven decades of an era that saw great tumult in India and Bangladesh, Harilal & Sons is a wonderfully evocative, powerful and capacious narrative—overflowing with a profusion of characters, events and places—contained within the singular life of one man who ‘dealt in jute and grain’.
The Crossword Book Award is a major literary award instituted by Crossword Bookstores in the year 1998. The award was founded as an Indian counterpart to international literary awards, such as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Man Booker Prize. The authors are awarded under the Lifetime Achievement, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children’s, Translations and Popular Choice categories. The award comes with a cash prize of Rs 3 lakh for winners in the jury award category and Rs 1 lakh for winners in the popular choice category.