Indian-origin London-based author Chetna Maroo’s debut novel ‘Western Lane’ was shortlisted for the 2023 Booker Prize in London on Thursday, 21 September.
‘Western Lane’ by Chetna Maroo revolves around the story of an 11-year-old British Gujarati girl named Gopi and her bonds with her family. The novel explores an immigrant father's attempts to raise his family as a single parent. Booker judges praised the book for its use of the sport of squash as a metaphor for complex human emotions.
“Chetna Maroo’s deeply evocative debut of a family grappling with grief conveyed through crystalline language which reverberates like the sound of ‘a ball hit clean and hard with a close echo’. It is stunning and it stays with you,” PTI quoted Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan, the chair of the Booker Prize 2023 judging panel.
Kenya-born Maroo said it would be fair to call ‘Western Lane’ as a “sports novel".
“It’s also been called a coming-of-age novel, a domestic novel, a novel about grief, a novel about the immigrant experience. Recently a friend asked me if the book has something of the detective story about it, with Gopi trying to find her way, piecing together the clues of small gestures, actions and fragments of overheard conversations; she has little to go on and since she’s dealing with the mysteries of loss, there are no answers for her," PTI reported Maroo as saying.
The judges chose the final six novels from 13 longlisted titles – the so-called “Booker dozen” – which were selected from 163 books published between October last year and September this year and submitted to the prize by publishers.
Sarah Bernstein’s ‘Study for Obedience’, ‘If I Survive You’ by Jonathan Escoffery, Paul Harding’s ‘The Other Eden’, Paul Lynch’s ‘Prophet Song’ and Paul Murray’s ‘The Bee Sting’ complete the shortlist of six that will compete for the GBP 50,000 prize to be unveiled on November 26 at an award ceremony in London.
“This is truly a list without borders. It includes a Briton of Indian descent, an American of Jamaican descent, a Canadian recently named one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists, and two Irish authors,” said PTI quoted Gaby Wood, Chief Executive of the Booker Prize Foundation.