SheThePeople announces longlist for maiden Women Writers Prize

Four translated works secure place in 2021 longlist

The Illuminated by Anindita Ghose, published by Fourth Estate India is one of the twelve books longlisted for the maiden Women Writers Prize 2021. Photo SheThePeople

SheThePeople announced the longlist for the inaugural Women Writers Prize 2021 on 7 February 2022. The maiden longlist comprises of twelve books, out of which four have been translated from regional Indian languages.

The longlist for the maiden Women Writers Prize 2021 is as follows:

  • A Death in Shonagachhi by Rijula Das, Picador India 
  • A Mirror Made of Rain by Naheed Phiroze Patel, Fourth Estate India 
  • A Red-Necked Green Bird by Ambai, translated from Tamil to English by GJV Prasad, S&S India 
  • Baby Doll: Stories by Gracy, translated from Malayalam to English by Fathima EV, Harper Perennial India 
  • Budhini by Sarah Joseph, translated from Malayalam to English by Sangeetha Sreenivasan, Penguin Hamish Hamilton 
  • Sisterhood of Swans by Selma Carvalho, Speaking Tiger 
  • The Begum and the Dastan by Tarana Husain Khan, Tranquebar 
  • The Blind Matriarch by Namita Gokhale, Penguin Viking 
  • The Illuminated by Anindita Ghose, Fourth Estate India 
  • The Loneliness of Hira Barua by Arupa Patangia Kalita, translated to English by Ranjita Biswas, Pan Macmillan India 
  • The Women Who Forgot to Invent Facebook and Other Stories by Nisha Susan, Context 
  • What We Know About Her by Krupa Ge, Context 

Shinie Antony, writer, and curator of the Women Writers Prize 2021 discloses, “The longlist makes for an absolute must-read. These are compelling narratives, written and translated with the warmest authenticity.” 

The Women Writers Prize has been instituted by the New Delhi-based platform for women, SheThePeople, and carries a cash prize of Rs 50,000. In case a translation wins the honor, the prize money will be equally distributed between the author and the translator. The award has been introduced after seven years of the launch of the annual Women Writers Fest literature festival which focuses on Indian women writers.

The Prize was launched with an objective to “shine the light on women writing fiction in India.” Fiction works and short story compilations with female protagonists and/or penned by Indian women writers based out of the country are eligible for the award. The works must be in English language or English translations from vernacular Indian languages.

Prize founder Shaili Chopra said on the relevance of the Prize, “I believe we need to read more of women’s writing and understand and absorb stories as told by women. We also need to champion more female authors from India, whose writings bring new and inclusive elements to the idea of the written word.” 

Novelist and Women Writers Prize mentor Shashi Deshpande adds, “The idea of the insignificance of women’s lives and experiences has spilled over into their writing and branded it as trivial and insignificant. Whereas, the truth is that every single human experience is part of the infinite tapestry of the human story; without women’s stories, the record remains incomplete. A literary prize exclusively for women’s writing can right the wrong and give women’s writing the prestige and dignity that all writing deserves.”

The judges for the 2021 award are – independent literary agent Preeti Gill; writer and journalist G Sampath; and Bengaluru-based Atta Galatta bookshop co-founder Lakshmi Subodh. The shortlist for the Prize will be out by the end of  February and the inaugural Women Writers Prize 2021 will be awarded by SheThePeople on 1 March 2022 in time to celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March. 

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