SOLO by Rana Dasgupta, was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2010 Best Book. The award was given away by Dr Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for External Affairs at an award ceremony in New Delhi on 12 April 2010.
Solo is a kaleidoscopic novel about the life and daydreams of Ulrich, a one hundred-year-old man from Bulgaria. Set in a country that has belonged sometimes to Asia and sometimes to Europe, Solo is a book about lost roots, broken traditions and wasted ambitions – and the ways human beings overcome those failures.
In a press release by the Commonwealth Foundation, the judges said that they ‘chose Solo for its innovation, ambition, courage and effortless elegant prose. A remarkable novel of two halves, this is a book that takes risks and examines the places where grim reality and fantastical daydreams merge, diverge, and feed off each other. Solo, the judges concluded, is a tour de force, breathtaking in its boldness and narrative panache.’
Present on the occasion were Professor M G K Menon, President, India International Centre, Dr Mark Collins, Director, Commonwealth Foundation, Mr Charles Gray, Global Head of Financial Services, Macquarie Group, Hon Justice Nicholas Hasluck AM, Chair, Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary-General. The evening was moderated by Barkha Dutt, Indian TV Journalist and Columnist.
Siddon Rock by Glenda Guest from Australia was declared of the winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2010 Best First Book.
The 2010 pan-Commonwealth panel of judges which decided the overall winners was chaired by Hon Justice Nicholas Hasluck AM (Chair of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize), and comprised of the four regional chairpersons: Elinor Sisulu (Africa); Antonia MacDonald-Smythe (Caribbean and Canada); Muneeza Shamsie (South Asia and Europe); and Anne Brewster (South East Asia and Pacific), along with the Delhi-based local judge Makarand Paranjape, twice regional chair of the Prize.
Rana Dasgupta (born November 5, 1971 in Canterbury, England) is a British-Indian novelist and essayist. He grew up in Cambridge, England and studied at Balliol College, Oxford, the Conservatoire Darius Milhaud in Aix-en-Provence, and the University of Wisconsin邦adison. He lives in Delhi, India.
His first novel, Tokyo Cancelled (2005), is an examination of the forces and experiences of globalization. Billed as a modern-day Canterbury Tales, thirteen passengers stuck overnight in an airport tell thirteen stories from different cities in the world, stories that resemble contemporary fairytales, mythic and surreal. The tales add up to a broad exploration of 21st century forms of life, which includes billionaires, film stars, migrant labourers, illegal immigrants and sailors.  Tokyo Cancelled was shortlisted for the 2005 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.
Dasgupta’s second novel, Solo (2009) is an epic tale of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries told from the perspective of a one hundred-year old Bulgarian man. Having achieved little in his twentieth-century life, he settles into a long and prophetic daydream of the twenty-first century, where all the ideological experiments of the old century are over, and a collection of startling characters – demons and angels – live a life beyond utopia. Rana Dasgupta has been awarded the ｣10,000 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for his novel Solo.
About the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize
The Commonwealth Foundation established the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1987. The objectives of the prize are to promote new voices, reward achievement, encourage wider readership and greater literacy, thereby increasing appreciation of different cultures and building understanding between cultures. The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize is chaired by Justice Nicholas Hasluck, distinguished Australian author and leading judicial officer.