A Booker for Jazz

On Thursday evening at the British Council, the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize was awarded to Mumbai-based author Naresh Fernandes for his book Taj Mahal Foxtrot. "There were 96 entries this year, of which we shortlisted six. It was a unanimous decision," said author Jeet Thayil, introducing the winner.

The prize was instituted five years ago in memory of Thayil's late wife and publisher Shakti Bhatt.

The six shortlisted books were Tamasha in Bandargaon by Navneet Jagannathan, The Purple Line by Priyamvada Purshottam, The King in Exile by Sudha Shah, The Inexplicable Happiness of Ramu Hajjam by Taj Hassan, Taj Mahal Foxtrot by Naresh Fernandes and Calcutta Exile by Bunny Suraiya.

"We decided to award Taj Mahal Foxtrot not just because of Naresh's beautiful writing, but also for the commendable amount of research that went into the book," said writer Basharat Peer, a jury member. "The book is not just a chronicle of the jazz music era in Mumbai, but also about the ever-cosmopolitan city welcoming people from all over the world," he added.

The award is given every year to a first book from the subconitnent. Fernandes, co-author of Bombay Then and Mumbai Now and former editor of Time Out, Mumbai, thanked his publishers, Roli Books,and read out excerpts from the book.

A visual and musical presentation guided his reading, signalling what his book has in store for the readers. "

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