April 19, 2020



18 April 2020, New Delhi:

Speaking Tiger is proud to announce that Bijoya Sawian’s book Shadow Men: A Novel and Two Stories has been shortlisted for the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2020.

In Shadow Men, Bijoya Sawian writes with the sensitivity and authority of a true Shillongite, bringing out the problems of insurgency and identity that trouble this North Eastern state, as well as its beauty.
A thick mist envelops an isolated house and a cottage atop a hill. Raseel, looking out from her window, hears the sound of shots. Suddenly the mist parts, and three men come into view, furtive, quick. Then they are gone, and there is silence. Raseel, visiting her old school friend Aila in Shillong, is determined to get to the truth behind the strange death of a ‘dkhar’, an outsider, in the grounds of her hosts’ house. Why was he killed? Who are the killers? As she begins to unravel the mystery, Raseel finds herself caught in a tale of intrigue and violence that mirrors the world of insurgency around her. The tense and dramatic undercurrents that emerge in Shadow Men continue in the stories that follow. In ‘The Flight’, eighteen-year-old Mawii has to make a difficult decision between her ‘own people’ and her one true love—when that love involves a ‘vai’—yet another word for ‘outsider’. And in ‘The Limp’, octogenarian Nipendro Roy finally feels he ‘belongs’ in this hill state to which he came as a twenty-year-old immigrant from Bengal. Shillong remains the true hero in these stories, as Bijoya Sawian draws the reader into a world where the downside of a matrilineal society, the scourge of drugs, alcohol and corrupt politicians, the disconnect with mainstream India, and above all, the fight for identity and belonging, threaten to rock this idyllic hill state that was once a paradise and, perhaps, no longer is.

Bijoya Sawian is a translator and writer who lives in Shillong and Dehradun. Her works essentially deal with the life and culture of the Khasi community of North East India. The Teachings of Elders, Khasi Myths, Legends and Folktales and About One God are three of several books that she has translated from Khasi into English. Several institutes of repute, including the Sahitya Akademi and the Institute of Folklore Studies, Bhopal, have published her short stories and critical essays. Her original works in English include A Family Secret and Other Stories.

The Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize (Tagore Prize) established in 2018, is an annual cultural event whose purpose is to reconcile international and Indian writers and artists, to bridge cultural differences, promote peace and education. Awarded in the honor of Rabindranath Tagore, Indian author and first non-European Nobel Prize winner for literature, the aim of this prize is to reward authors whose efforts to promote compassion, tolerance, mutual understanding, have successfully bridged various divides such as class, caste, ethnicity, gender, age, education. Eligible are Indian poets, playwrights and novelists (poetry, drama, prose/fiction; short story, novel) writing in officially recognized languages or dialects of the Indian subcontinent, including English.

The winner of the Tagore Prize will be announced at an award ceremony expected to take place in New Delhi in October 2020.

The book is available on Amazon kindle.

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