JCB Prize for Literature announced its shortlist on Friday at Delhi’s Oxford Bookstore. Providing a sum of Rs 25 lakh to the winner, it is called the richest literary prize in the country. Pradip Krishen, filmmaker and environmentalist, chaired this year’s jury. Talking about the selection process with other judges, he said that the shortlist was a difficult process than the longlist. “The selection was not unanimous but we had interesting discussions among us,” he said. He further added that he is happy that all the judges feel that they arrived at the five best books eventually.
Distinct voices made to the shortlist for this year’s prize. There’s Manoranjan Byapari’s book, There’s Gunpowder in the Air. Translated by Arunava Sinha, the book is a searing account of Naxalite movement in Bengal. Two books Trial by Silence and A Lonely Harvest by Perumal Murugan is nominated as a single book to be entered in the prize according to Krishen.
These titles are separate sequels to Murugan’s acclaimed One Part Woman. Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s book My Father’s Garden is a narrative account of a doctor around the themes of love and sexuality. There are also first-time novelists entering the prize. Ib’s Endless Search for Satisfaction by Roshan Ali and The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay made this cut. Present at the occasion was writer Rana Dasgupata, Literary Director, JCB Prize, who said, “We want to help readers discover the very greatest novels coming from India.
It is difficult for people to know what is great in any year, that’s what our prizes trying to do. Literary fiction needs prizes to promote it. We want to identify these books and promote it to a wide audience.” Dasgupta added that he encourages publishers to enter translated books in the competition. “Translation is an extremely important part of this prize. The 2018 prize also was won by a novel [Jasmine Days by Benyamin], written in Malayalam and translated into English.”
The five shortlisted authors will receive Rs 1 lakh. The winner will be announced on November 2. According to the prize committee, if a translated work wins the award, the translator will receive an additional `10 lakh.