JCB Prize for Literature announces the shortlist for 2021

Two Malayalam translations in the shortlist

The 2021 shortlists announced by JCB Prize for Literature
The 2021 shortlists announced by JCB Prize for Literature

The JCB Prize for Literature celebrates the very finest achievements in Indian writing. Each year, it is presented to a distinguished work of fiction by an Indian writer, as selected by the jury. The 2021 shortlists, as announced by Mita Kapur, literary director of the Prize, across the JCB Prize for Literature’s social media platforms is —

  • Anti-Clock by V.J. James, translated from the Malayalam by Ministhy S. (Penguin Random House India, 2021) 
  • Name Place Animal Thing by Daribha Lyndem (Zubaan Publishers, 2021) 
  • The Plague Upon Us by Shabir Ahmad Mir (Hachette India, 2020)
  • Delhi: A Soliloquy by M. Mukundan, translated from the Malayalam by Fathima E.V. and Nandakumar K. (Westland, 2020) 
  • Gods and Ends by Lindsay Pereira (Penguin Random House India, 2021)

Commenting on the shortlist, the chair of the 2021 jury, Sara Rai, said, “Presenting a cross-section of the multiple diversities in India, the five novels on this year’s shortlist that speak in layered voices are often laced with irony. Inventive and insightful in the way only literature can be, they create disparate worlds, each a microcosm with larger resonances and significance. The anguish of Kashmir, the turbulence of ethnic conflict in the northeast, the disharmony of lives spent in narrow social and psychological confines, each with their specific difficulties – the novels dive deep into these particular, ordinary lives and come up having discovered in them the extraordinary.”    

With Covid-19 restrictions slowly easing, the Prize is back this year with new on-ground collaborations with stand-alone book stores and Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters to provide wider access to the novels across India and create a one-on-one interaction between readers and books. The JCB Prize for Literature is also collaborating with Amazon Books India for the fourth year in a row as its official online partner to ensure that the shortlisted books reach people in every corner of the country. 

Talking about the collaboration Pragya Sharma, director, media Amazon India, said, “We are delighted to collaborate with JCB Prize for Literature as their official online bookstore partner. The award is a trustworthy and prestigious source for recognizing distinguished work of fiction by Indian writers. We are working together to nurture a passion for reading in India and are excited to bring high-quality, diverse books from the award longlist for our customers.”

With the winner to be decided soon, Mita Kapur said, “Things are looking up slowly, and there are a few things that have kept us going through these times – empathy, love, art. The publishing industry has powered on in bringing a treasure trove of literature from all regions of India to the forefront to reach out to readers here and throughout the world. Now more than ever, we need to listen to the other, lose ourselves in a new story. These books will spirit you away to worlds unknown, yet familiar in the emotions each human heart shares with the other.”

Each of the five shortlisted authors will receive Rs 1 lakh; if a shortlisted work is a translation, the translator will receive an additional Rs 50,000. The winner of the Rs 25 lakh JCB Prize for Literature will be announced on 13th November 2021. If the winning work is a translation, the translator will receive an additional Rs 10 lakh.

About the JCB Prize for Literature 

The JCB Prize for Literature was set up in 2018 to enhance the prestige of literary achievement in India and create greater visibility for contemporary Indian writing. The prize encourages translations and aims to introduce new audiences to works of Indian literature written in languages other than their own. It is funded by JCB and administered by the JCB Literature Foundation.


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