Delhi: A Soliloquy wins the 2021 JCB Prize for Literature

Third translation to win the JCB Prize

184
Delhi: A Soliloquy wins the 2021 JCB Prize for Literature
Delhi: A Soliloquy wins the 2021 JCB Prize for Literature

Delhi: A Soliloquy by M Mukundan, translated from the Malayalam by Fathima E V and Nandakumar K, was announced the winner of the Rs 25-lakh-JCB Prize for Literature. The winner was announced by Lord Bamford, chairman, JCB in a hybrid awards ceremony. M Mukundan’s novel, which is a narrative of epic proportions that casts an unflinching gaze at the country’s capital as it changes into the megalopolis that it is today, was the unanimous choice of the jury.  

Delhi: A Soliloquy is the third translation to win the award. Mukundan also received the Prize trophy, which is a sculpture by Delhi artist duo Thukral & Tagra entitled ‘Mirror Melting.’

Delhi
M Mukundan wins the JCB Prize of Literature 2021. Photo JCB Prize Foundation

The book was selected by a panel of five judges: Sara Rai (Chair), Annapurna Garimella, Shahnaz Habib, Prem Panicker, and Amit Varma. Members of the esteemed jury were unanimous in their praise for Delhi: A Soliloquy

Sara Rai (Chair): “Delhi: A Soliloquy by M Mukundan speaks with grace and poise of the large lives of small people in a city with a broken soul. Clairvoyant in its human empathy, this extraordinary book is the distillation of a lifetime of experience.”

Annapurna Garimella: “Mukundan’s Delhi: A Soliloquy deserves to win because it is a finely written novel of many stories, set in an epic city. Mukundan’s characters take us back to a time when the promises of the new nation broke; through them, we understand that kindness can endure even as political and social forms fail to fulfil hopes and dreams.”

Shahnaz Habib: “I love the way Delhi: A Soliloquy captures what it is like to be a bit player in the story of a big city. This book is full of bit players, and in the quiet and grim unfolding of their lives, against the political crises of the sixties and seventies and eighties, Mukundan invests their lives with the quiet dignity of witnessing.”

Prem Panicker: “History writes with a big brush. Its concerns are with headline events, with the lives of the big and the powerful. M. Mukundan’s Delhi: A Soliloquy is a history with a small ‘h’, and its concerns are the little people in the cracks and crevices of that history – their lives and loves and hopes and despairs that play out unnoticed against the backdrop of seismic change.”

Delhi
Lord Bamford, chairman, JCB announced the prize winner in a hybrid awards ceremony. Photo JCB Prize

Amit Varma: “Delhi: A Soliloquy is a masterful novel that zooms into the interior life of its characters, zooms out to paint a picture of the times, and makes both equally vivid. It is that rare book that succeeds in being both intimate and epic.”

M Mukundan was born and brought up in  Mahe. He rose to critical acclaim and popularity with  Mayyazhippuzhayude  Theerangalil  (1974). His stories and novels have been widely translated into various Indian languages, English and French. He has been awarded  Ezhuthachan  Puraskaram, the highest literary honor given by the Government of Kerala, the Crossword Book Award twice, first in 1999 for  On the Banks of the  Mayyazhi  and again in 2006 for  Kesavan’s  Lamentations,  and the  Sahitya  Akademi  award and NV  Puraskaram  for  Daivathinte  Vikrithikal  (God’s Mischief).  His other major works include  Kesavante  Vilapangal  (2009) and Prasavam  (2008). He was presented with the insignia of Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1998. He also served as the president of the Kerala  Sahitya Akademi  from 2006 to 2010. Four of his books have been adapted into award-winning films.  Delhi  Gathakal  (2011), translated as  Delhi: A Soliloquy,  is based on his experiences of living and working in Delhi for forty years as a cultural attaché at the French embassy. In 2004, he retired from that position and returned to Mahe, his hometown.

Fathima E V is an award-winning writer and translator. Her translation of Subhash Chandran’s  Manushyanu  Oru  Amukham,  translated as  A Preface to Man,  was awarded the Crossword Book Award (2017) and the V. Abdulla Translation Award (2017). She was the translator-editor of the Indian Ink Mag, and her poems and short fiction have appeared in international anthologies and journals. She holds an MA and a PhD from the University of Calicut, and completed the TESOL course from the University of Surrey. Currently, she heads the department of English at Krishna Menon Memorial Government Women’s College, Kannur.

Nandakumar K started his career as a sub-editor at Financial Express, after completing a master’s degree in Economics, followed by stints in international marketing and general management in India and abroad. Having traveled in over fifty countries, he claims he can speak enough German and French to save his life. Strangely, his tryst with translation started with a paper in French on the blood diseases of fish for his sister-in-law, using a borrowed dictionary. He is now an empanelled copy editor with Indian publishers and IIM Ahmedabad.  Delhi: A Soliloquy  is his first published translation from Malayalam. He lives and works in Dubai.

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.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here