Winner of the 2018 Moore Prize
Meghan Campbell 6th December 2018

The judges of the Moore Prize 2018 have announced that Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan is the winning book. A summary of the books by the Chairperson of the judging panel is supported by all of the judges.

This year’s finalists for the Moore Prize are a diverse set of fictions that attest, individually and collectively, to the resilience of the human spirit and value of human dignity when these are most imperilled. Our imaginations are challenged and our capacities for empathy and sympathy enlarged in unexpected ways by reading these imaginative and ambitious writers. The other four short-listed titles for the Moore Prize 2018 were: Ants Among Elephants by Sujatra Gidla, Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera, Malacqua by Nicola Puguese, and Welcome to Lagos by Chibudu Onuzo.

Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrisknan

Temporary People is Deepak Unnikrishman’s first book. A native of Kerala State, he has lived and taught in various US cities and in Abu Dhabi. The latter place is the setting for his ambitious and impressive suite of interlocking postmodernist stories that both dissect and document the lives of Asian and South Asian migrants who make up the majority of the tiny Middle Eastern country’s population. The writing is painful and (surprisingly) fun. The fables, that at first glance seem crazed, turn out to be perfect metaphors of the tragedy endured by those who move to survive, or to follow the dream of finding better and living conditions. The book’s tales function like pieces of a puzzle, and we seek unities in the fragmented lives on offer. The individuals in this narrative take on all the dangerous and difficult jobs, knowing that they will never be eligible to participate fully in their surroundings, much less gain full citizenship.

By implication, Unnikrishman brings a new understanding to the refugee crises, forced migrations and the related abuses of our time, with this specific envisioning speaking to situations and experiences from around the world. The sad situation of the temporary people is that they are permanent transients. In addition to the Moore Foundation Award, the book has also received the coveted Hindu Literary Prize and the Restless Book Prize for New Immigrant Writing.

The Moore Prize was established to encourage original, creative, and courageous writing of fiction and non-fiction about the relationship of power to the lives of ordinary citizens in all parts of the globe; and to encourage authors to investigate and analyze the causes of conflict, abuse and violation of human rights. The winner of the Prize receives £1,000.

The 2018 Moore Prize’s distinguished panel of judges:

Randy Boyagoda is a Canadian writer, intellectual and critic best known for his novels Governor of the Northern Province (2006) and Beggar’s Feast (2011) and his biography of Richard John Neuhaus (2015). He is a member of the University of Toronto’s English Department and served as the President of PEN Canada from 2015-2017. He has recently published his latest novel, Original Prin.

Carmen Boullosa has had established a reputation as one of Mexico’s most admired writers. Her work examines issues of feminism and gender roles within a Latin American context. She has won a number of awards for her works and has taught at such universities as Georgetown University, Columbia University and New York University (NYU), the City College of New York and Blaise Pascal University in Clermont Ferrand, France. She is now a professor at Macaulay Honors College.

George Fetherling is one of Canada’s most prolific person of letters, who has written or edited more than fifty books, including a dozen volumes of poetry, four book-length fictions, and a two-volume memoir.

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