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The 2017 Longlist


Fourteen authors have made it onto the longlist for the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. The shortlist of six will be announced on March 19, and the winner will be announced at a gala dinner at Stationers’ Hall in London on Thursday, April 27.

Anjali Joseph

Everlasting Lucifer

Anjali Joseph was born in Bombay. She read English at Trinity College, Cambridge, has taught English at the Sorbonne, and has written for the Times of India in Bombay. She was commissioning editor of Elle India. Saraswati Park, her first novel, was published in 2010. It won the Betty Trask Prize and the Desmond Elliott Prize, and was joint winner of India’s Vodafone Crossword Book Award for Fiction, as well as being shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, the Ondaatje Prize, and the Hindu Literary Prize. Another Country, her second novel, was published in 2012 and was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize. The Living, a third novel, appeared in 2016.


An extract from Everlasting Lucifer

Ved Ved sat at the bar in the executive lounge and sipped at his peppermint tea. With a sigh a slender girl came and sat next to him. The lounge was busy. She put down her satchel, another cloth bag, a book, four magazines, and on the counter a glass of champagne and a plate containing girl-sized amounts of different things: salad, salmon, cheese, chocolate pudding. She sat on a stool, sighed again, and took off her hat. What was she wearing? Some sort of jumpsuit? She crossed her legs and shook out long black hair. She smiled at the huge window, beyond which it was dark and planes were taxiing, landing, or allowing passengers to embark.

No, Ved Ved said to himself. He’d absolutely had enough of executive lounge hipsters, trust fund kids, with their accents, their perfect skin, their phones and tablets and rising inflections. He looked younger than he was. People talked to him. Don’t look, he thought.

She lifted thin arms to coil her hair, and stuck what seemed to be a single blue chopstick through it. Ved saw a little armpit fuzz, and wasn’t put off. He felt a stab in his stomach, around the navel. He stared at her cheekbone, at one slightly upward slanting, long eye. She looked round, smiled at him amicably, opened a magazine and sipped her drink.

She wasn’t going to talk to him. He was going to have to talk to her.

He’d just begun to contemplate this when he heard some idiot blurt, ‘Where are you travelling to?’

It was him. She looked up, glass in hand.

‘Where are you going?’ he said, and smiled. She was looking at him. He wanted to die. This meant she was beautiful.

‘I’m flying to Bombay,’ she said. Her voice was clear, high.

‘So am I,’ he said. ‘9 o’clock?’

She nodded.

‘Are you studying? Is that where you live? Bombay, Mumbai,’ he went on, desperately.

She remained calm, open.

‘Do you live in Mumbai?’

‘No. I’m going back to Assam. But first I’m spending a few days with some old friends. I studied in Bombay.’

‘What did you study? I’m sorry,’ he said quickly. Maybe I’m interrupting your drink and – My name’s Ved.’ He put out his hand. This was the usual, boyish, frank, etc.

‘Keteki,’ she said, not taking his hand, but smiling, not out of pleasure but as a gesture, a glass of cool water given to a guest as his due.

‘That’s a beautiful name. What does it mean?’

‘It’s the name of a bird.’

Ved Ved, the scoundrel, smiled, stroked her smooth full mouth with his gaze. ‘It must be a beautiful bird.’

She smiled. ‘Actually it’s a trickster.’

‘Excuse me?’

‘A trickster. It leaves its babies in other people’s nests to bring up, and it looks and tries to sound like a bird of prey so other birds leave it alone.’

‘Oh.’

She had a couple of white hairs that did decorative things near her ear. Her eyeliner had made a blob under the inner corner of the eye nearer him. He had never before realised how beautiful any of these things were: armpit fuzz, smudged eyeliner, white hairs. Secretly, for years, he must have been infatuated with them all.

‘But it has a sweet voice.’ She smiled again. Excuse me. ‘I just want to go and… before we have to board.’

‘Oh, that won’t be for a… Do you want me to keep an eye on your stuff?’

‘Could you?’