From the judges: “The book’s boldness, beauty and courage make it utterly seductive.”

You can watch a video of the award ceremony here (Literature category is announced in the first 15 minutes):

India, 1996. Waheeda, a principled and spirited young woman from Uttar Pradesh sets her sights on becoming a member of Parliament. But her romance with the scion of a Delhi business dynasty threatens that dream. Manual for a Decent Life plays out against the backdrop of a tumultuous time in Indian politics in a world where nothing is what it seems and danger lurks at every turn.

“This ambitious novel is both epic and intimate as Jindal moves seamlessly between domestic family scenes, the passion of an illicit love affair and the instability of political parties vying for power at any cost. The fast-paced, plot-driven drama unfolds against the turbulent backdrop of India in the 1990s. The writing is accomplished, the story is thrilling with a bombshell of an ending.”


This stunning crisply paced novel reveals its interwoven themes and storylines in social-realistic style. Manual For a Decent Life is excitingly ambitious, exploring dilemmas around politics, gender and sex at a fascinating moment in Indian history.
Michele Roberts, author of the Booker-Prize-shortlisted Daughters of the House

The rapid pace of the plot makes for edge-of-seat excitement.
Saleem Peeradina, author of Heart’s Beast: New and Selected Poems

A compelling novel that is impossible to put down.
Manju Kapur, author of Difficult Daughters

A heart-searching novel with a wide sweep. Its themes of Indian family, female identity and power struggles are of contemporary significance.
Russell Celyn Jones, author of The Ninth Wave

A work that will live with me for a long time. … A deftly rendered collision of place, religion, class, person, culture, and politics.
Jason A. Reading in The Book Review. Read the full review here

It would be difficult to describe this novel as a piece of truly postcolonial literature, since it refuses to contextualise its narrative or its characters as reacting to a colonial past. In this, I found the approach of the author quite daring, and I admire her courage in presenting her work to an audience that will immediately comprehend the cultural context.
Jenny Gorrod in Dundee University Review of the Arts. Read the full review here

It is a fascinating love story set in the political turmoil of that time, an account of how people adapt themselves to these shifts of power and values, as it raises important questions about the independence of women and the choices that they make in that society.
Jennifer Wong

An authentic book that needed to be written… This world we see; restrictive and conservative, then glamorous and modern, makes the book unique.
Mona Dash

I was particularly fond of, and impressed by, the wider set of characters each playing their parts in the overarching narrative. Waheeda’s friends and family feel very real. We are forced to contemplate the extent to which we are all prepared to risk not only our careers and social standing, but our family and friends simply to fulfil desire.
Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

Manual For A Decent Life is filled with energy and sensuality, and Jindal serves a satisfying feast for the adventurous reader.
Gabrielle Barnby in Ars Artium

Lyrical prose and great characters kept me hooked to the end.
Tracy Fells in The Literary Pig. Read the full review here

A riveting book. The kind you’d read in one sitting, if only you didn’t want to pause and reflect over the depth of the situations hidden behind the almost simple prose. The kind of book you want to re-read, immediately after turning the last page.
– Reader Review

A masterly account of one woman’s lone battle – (albeit aided and abetted patronizingly) to get elected. Woven into it are hauntingly lovely descriptions of the finer and grimmer versions of day to day life.
– Reader Review

Brilliant, edifying, terrifying.
– Reader Review

I had trouble putting this book down once I began. The writing is masterful.
– Reader Review

The main joys are the realistic characters, flawed and likeable, who populate the book.
– Reader Review