By A Staff Writer
Preti Taneja’s We That Are Young has won the prestigious Desmond Elliott Prize, an aw
ard for the best debut novel in English, published in the UK. We That Are Young was published by Penguin Random House India under Hamish Hamilton in October 2017.
We That Are Young is Shakespeare’s King Lear told as a devastating commentary on contemporary India. From Delhi mansions to luxury hotels, from city slums to the streets of Kashmir, from palace to wayside, Preti Taneja recasts an old tale in fresh, eviscerating prose that bursts with energy and fierce, beautifully measured rage. This is the story of a country that, like the old king, is descending into madness.
The Guardian in a review had said: “ Taneja
has given us that rarest of beasts, a page-turner that’s also unabashedly political – with the complex, ambiguous, fiercely felt politics of our time.”
Commenting on Taneja’s award, Meru Gokhale, Editor-in-Chief, Literary Publishing, Penguin Random House India, told www.arrackistan.com that they were overjoyed to be the ones to introduce “this rare new talent to India.” She added: “In We That Are Young, Preti Taneja’s words leap off the page, constantly juggling family dynamics, workplace power struggles and India’s grand economic and political transition, bringing them all into a singular, compelling narrative.”
Manasi Subramaniam, Senior Commissioning Editor, Penguin Random House India, said Taneja’s work deserved all acclaim. She said: “We always knew we had something special on our hands with this book. I’m so glad the world agrees!”
The Book: Jivan Singh, bastard son, returns to Delhi after fifteen years of exile to find a city on fire with protests and in the grip of drought. On the same day, Devraj, father of Jivan’s childhood playmates and founder of India’s most important Company,
announces his retirement, demanding daughterly love in exchange for shares. Sita, his youngest child, refuses to play, turning her back on the marriage he has arranged. Her sisters, Gargi and Radha, must take over the Company and cement their father’s legacy. As they struggle to make their names, a family and an empire begin to unravel.
Vishal Bhardwaj, lyricist and Bollywood filmmaker who has adapted Shakespeare plays into movies, said: “In a brilliant, sharp new telling of King Lear, Preti Taneja shows her profound understanding of not just of Shakespeare and India, but of human nature itself. Heartbreaking. A poetic tour de force.”