Booker winner, 6 translations, stories from all over India, longlisted for Rs 25 lakh JCB Prize for Literature 2022

New Delhi, September 3 (SocialNews.XYZ) A Booker winner, six translations and stories from Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Nagaland, Punjab, Kalimpong and Kolkata feature in the long list of 10 books for the Rs 25 lakh JCB Prize in Literature, the literary prize the country’s richest for contemporary fiction by an Indian writer, announced on Saturday, with jury president AS Panneerselvan comparing the books to “a metaphor for contemporary India”.

“Tomb of Sand” by International Booker Prize winner Geetanjali Shree is among the Hindi, Urdu and Nepali translations that make their first appearance in the long list among previous Bengali and Malayalam translations.


The long list:

‘Rohzin’ by Rahman Abbas, translated from Urdu by Sabika Abbas Naqvi (Vintage Books, 2022)

‘Imaan’ by Manoranjan Byapari, translated from Bengali by Arunava Sinha (EKA, 2021)

“Escape from the Earth” by Mamang Dai (Speaking Tiger, 2021)

‘Paradise of Food’ by Khalid Jawed, translated from Urdu by Baran Farooqi (Juggernaut, 2022)

‘Song of the Soil’ by Chuden Kabimo, translated from Nepali by Ajit Baral (Rachna Books, 2021)

‘Spirit Nights’ by Easterine Kire (Simon & Schuster, 2022)

‘Crimson Spring’ by Navtej Sarna (Aleph Book Company, 2022)

‘The Strange Book of Baby Names’ by Anees Salim (Penguin Hamish Hamilton, 2021)

‘Tomb of Sand’ by Geetanjali Shree, translated from Hindi by Daisy Rockwell (Penguin Random House India, 2022)

‘Valli’ by Sheela Tomy, translated from Malayalam by Jayasree Kalathil (Harper Perennial, 2022)

The ten novels were selected by a panel of five judges including authors Amitabha Bagchi and Janice Pariat; author and academician Rakhee Balaram; and translator, historian and scholar J Devika.

The long list was chosen from a wide range of submissions from writers from 16 states writing in eight languages, including English, published between August 1, 2021 and July 31, 2022.

The jury will announce the shortlist of five titles in October and the winner will be announced on November 19. If the winning work is a translation, the translator will receive an additional Rs 10 lakh. Each of the five shortlisted authors will receive Rs 1 lakh; if a shortlisted work is a translation, the translator will receive Rs 50,000.

“This year’s deliberation to select the novels was an enriching experience. It was a rich collection, the translations from different languages ​​showed how writers push linguistic and creative boundaries to document our lives. These ten novels are in some way sort of a metaphor for contemporary art. India, where each language is allowed to shine; its intrinsic beauty is not subsumed by the other,” Panneerselvan said.

Speaking about the journey of the JCB Prize for Literature and the support it has received from the industry, its Literary Director, Mita Kapur, said the shortlisted books “are invigorating, vigorous, transformative, experimental in voice and story Elementary of storytelling, each book takes flight of imagination even though it is strongly rooted in India”.

“The award enters its fifth year, marking 50 shortlisted titles that take the pulse of our literary traditions. This journey, of course, would be incomplete without the publishers who bring these stories to light, the bookstores, online and offline, who give them a platform and open readers to the new worlds created by these books,” Kapur added.

Comments from the jury on the shortlisted novels:

“Rohzin”: With a dramatic love story at the heart of it, this novel is also the story of a young boy who moves to a big city. It features parts of Mumbai, like Mohammad Ali Road, rarely seen in English fiction. The real and the fantastic, the contemporary and the ancient blend harmoniously as the great themes of Hindi cinema play out in the background.

‘Imaan’ is a completely new iteration of the humanist tradition of Bengali literature. It presents a vivid portrait of the people of the periphery but is neither voyeuristic nor condescending. Every character has agency, no matter how circumscribed their life may be. A raw, deeply authentic and honest story that is equally well-paced, poignant and eloquent.

“Escaping the Land”: Breathtakingly lyrical and poetic, (this) is a memorable tale of a life lived on India’s northeast frontier. Among the varieties of masculinity depicted in fiction, the protagonist of this novel is a rare character, that of a man who fails and accepts his failure. There’s an underlying intelligence that runs through the book, becoming more vivid as the narrative progresses.

“Paradise of Food” is a brutal and riveting tale of the contemporary body, home, and nation told through food and cuisine. In a world consumed by hyper-consumption, the book provides an invigorating counter-narrative that makes it an important work. The incredibly skillful translation showcases the poetry and music of the original text.

‘Song of the Soil’ is a shining example of how one can write about a violent incident without recreating the violence. The author mixes bildungsroman (a person’s formative years or spiritual upbringing) with conflicting history with great dexterity, bringing out new aspects of both forms. This book is able to make poetry out of brutal situations, but does so with honesty, humor and gentleness.

“Spirit Nights” poses a different vision of the world where the human is just another creature struggling in the immensity of creation. Simple yet evocative, full of deep insights and important teachings, this grounded, lyrical novel is a powerful celebration of the traditions of oral storytelling.

‘Crimson Spring’: A solidly crafted work of historical fiction, (it) not only speaks to the historic moment of turbulence and terror unleashed by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, but also brings rural Punjab to life at the turn of the century.

‘The Odd Book of Baby Names’: Dealing with a multiplicity of viewpoints, the story moves from one to the other with ease. A soft and pleasant read, with a touch of dry humor, but filled with tenderness and emotion. The book proves that it is possible to produce a critique of the decaying feudal order, presided over by Muslim authorities without recourse to any other (a phenomenon in which certain individuals or groups are defined and labeled as not fitting the norms of a social group ) devices.

‘Tomb of Sand’: wild and unruly, (it) challenges our notions of what a novel should be. The printing of several novels in one gives it a carnivalesque atmosphere. This novel is witty and irreverent yet filled with tenderness and psychological insight.

‘Valli’ is a beautifully written work that transports us to another time and another place. It presents a bygone world in which the natural world is an extension of the human world. The prose has many textures, with lettering and scripture quotes, making for a deeply satisfying read.

Source: IANS

Booker winner, 6 translations, stories from all over India, longlisted for Rs 25 lakh JCB Prize for Literature 2022

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