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 post-modernist 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.








2018 Shortlist


General Statement by the Members of the Jury:

This year’s finalists for the Moore Prize are a diverse set of books 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 empty and sympathy enlarged in unexpected ways by reading these imaginative and ambitious writers. 

About the short-listed works:




Ants Among Elephants by Sujatha Gilda

This memoir, about the situation of Dalits in India, as imagined across the complex terrain of both family life and political strife, is unflinching in its exposures and revelations about what it means to seek a voice and place in a world seemingly long-since-set on denying that to you and yours.









Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera

This novel, about the ways in which an ordinary life can be taken up into extraordinary situations, is a provocative, energetic, and even at times entertaining account of the brutalities and injustices of daily life in a Mexico ruled by dictatorial drug lords.










Malacqua by Nicola Pugliese

This novel, about what happens when ecological disaster both forces and invites you to a fresh reckoning with the world around, is set in a Naples that is at once viscerally real and magically other. The novel questions our sense of reality and reveals the stakes of human life in its dependencies on the natural world.









Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan

This novel, about the situation of South Asian workers in the contemporary Middle East, is bleak and punishing in what it shows us about these lives, and yet it inspires a strange, unsettling, even funny strength of spirit in us by revealing the very same in them.










Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo

This novel, about a group of young people in contemporary Lagos, reveals how hard it is to do the good in a setting that encourages the opposite. Friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice prove more powerful than temptations to power and greed.







2018 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 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 universities such 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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