Those of you who have followed Amit Varma's lucid prose, the news of the award that is his, will come as no surprise. For those of you who haven't read his work yet, India Uncut is the perfect place to start.
The Bastiat Prize for Journalism is his. Yes, that candlestick beats the cash. Though Amit fielded off competition from 280 other scribes. With that, he joins the select ranks of past winners Tim Harford (Financial Times), Mary Anastasia O’Grady (Wall Street Journal) and Robert Guest (The Economist).
For a closer look at what the contest was like, head here and don't forget giving Amit that well-deserved email pat.
Closer home, congratulations are also (over)due to Balli Kaur. She's sitting comfortably in her lovely little room at the University of East Anglia in UK as I pen this. All thanks to the prestigious T K Wong fellowship that Balli won to work on her first novel.
She sent me an excerpt of the writing that helped her clinch the award and it sure has me pining for more:
Six weeks later, Amrit left the house in the middle of the night and didn’t return. Narin was the last to know because he had become so difficult to reach. It took a phone call from his father to the Dean, who sent a resident advisor to tell him in person........
As he packed his room for his return home, he pulled out the suitcase from under his bed. Thoughts of Amrit, her body mangled and abandoned somewhere flooded his mind and made it hard for him to focus. His hands shook as he unzipped the suitcase. There were things in there that he could throw out to make room for what he had acquired in America. Shot glasses. Photographs. Movies on video that were never released back home. A clock radio.
Tears stung his eyes as he emptied the suitcase. He never expected the smells of his home to remain so well-preserved in this bag. Sandalwood and fennel drifted into the hard winter air and tinted the iron skies a rich orange. The coldness evaporated and in its place, a blast of warmth. Then Narin saw his thick-soled shoes. Amrit had done most of the last minute packing. Probably out of mischief, she’d removed the shoes from his other suitcase and placed them in this one. Narin didn’t care how loudly he was crying – it was the first and last time he would do such a thing for his sister and in all the years after, he would be reticent. Fellow students peered anxiously from the doorway asking if he needed anything but he would only stop grieving when he picked up the shoes and found them sitting flatly on a dictionary, a Holy Book and a popular novel.
Balli had appeared on the show shortly before she packed her bags for the UK together with Chris Mooney-Singh, the brains behind Writers Connect and author Richard Lord.
Chris started the group in June 2004 for writers to give and get feedback on each others' work. Over the years, its grown slowly yet surely. And Balli's success is clear proof. She discussed some of her writing at the sessions the group has held at the Earshot Café @The Arts House.
Chris and his lovely wife Savinder have been in the news recently. And its fantastic to see two wonderful people get the attention they truly deserve.