Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai wins the Costa first novel award


Congratulations to Kishwar Desai, who has just won the 2010 Costa (previously Whitbread) first novel award for Witness the Night (published by Beautiful Books), which, says the Costa citation, “explores India’s hidden female infanticide and [is] the first book of a series featuring the unconventional female protagonist, Simran Singh.”

This novel is one of my favourites from those I read and reviewed in 2010. I reviewed the book for Euro Crime, writing:

“The main character is a great invention, and I hope she’ll return. She deals with the prejudiced and patriarchal society in which she lives with humour, resolve and determination, simply refusing to bow down or accept that other people’s rules apply to her. In addition, the story of Durga’s and Sharda’s history is truly appalling, and one that can only make the reader’s blood boil. This is an excellent, no-holds-barred and moving account, with a clear moral tone that adds resonance to the whole.”

Read the rest of my Euro Crime review.

Read more about the novel, and the author, and why it won the prize, at the Costa awards website. According to the judges: “Kishwar Desai pulls off a remarkable trick, transplanting a country house murder to modern day India in a book that’s not afraid to tackle serious themes.”

Publisher’s press release about the award.

The novel has also been reviewed at The Bookbag, Iris on Books, The Guardian (brief), and Curious Book Fans.