The race to win the coveted JCB Prize for Literature — India’s richest literary prize — has inched closer to the finishing line. Five exemplary authors and six books have made it to the shortlist. These include Ib’s Endless Search for Satisfaction by Roshan Ali, There’s Gunpowder in the Air by Manoranjan Byapari (translated from Bengali by Arunava Sinha), My Father’s Garden by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay and two of Perumal Murugan’s books — Trial by Silence and Lonely Harvest — translated from Tamil by Aniruddhan
The shortlist for the year was announced today by Pradip Krishen, Chair of the 2019 jury, and Rana Dasgupta, Literary Director of the Prize, at a press conference held at Delhi’s Oxford Bookstore.
“Bringing voices from across the country, these novels address the many specific difficulties of living a life in Indian society. With a combination of lyricism and humour, the five novelists portray characters who are at odds with their very different worlds. Their private struggles help illuminate larger themes, including patriarchy in rural southern India, religious and political conflict in Kashmir, and social and sexual marginalization in eastern India. Taken together, these novels remind us that fiction remains the most powerful way for a society to examine its fundamental concerns,” Krishen said.
“This year’s shortlist displays a satisfying diversity of voices, as is appropriate to the scale and variety of this country. These books transport us to very different parts of India, and give us access to very different kinds of life. Each of them is imbued by the spirit of its moment, which is perhaps why the shortlist has such an unsettled, turbulent flavour,” said Dasgupta.
The JCB Prize for Literature is presented each year to a distinguished work of fiction by an Indian writer, as selected by the jury. Besides filmmaker and environmentalist Pradip Krishen, the 2019 jury comprises author and critic Anjum Hasan, authors K R Meera and Parvati Sharma, and economist and former Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India Arvind Subramanian.
The winner for this year will be announced on November 2, 2019.
Last year, the JCB Prize for Literature was awarded to Jasmine Days by Benyamin, translated from Malayalam by Shahnaz Habib.