Sheela Tomy’s ‘Valli’ among shortlist for JCB Prize for Literature

Sheela Tomy. File photo

New Delhi: It is only the five translated literary works that have made it to the shortlist for the coveted JCB Prize for Literature that was announced on Friday.

The books on the list include International Booker-winning novel "Tomb of Sand" by Geetanjali Shree (translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell), "The Paradise of Food" by Khalid Jawed (translated from the Urdu by Baran), and "Imaan" by Manoranjan Byapari (translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha).

It is for the first time that titles in Urdu, Hindi and Nepali have featured in the shortlist of the literary award, which is currently in its fifth year.

The shortlist also includes debut books - "Song of the Soil" by Chuden Kabimo (translated from the Nepali by Ajit Baral) and "Valli" by Sheela Tomy, (translated from the Malayalam by Jayasree Kalathil).

The prize carrying an amount of Rs 25 lakh is awarded each year to a distinguished work of fiction by an Indian writer. It is touted to be the most expensive Indian award for writing.

The five books were chosen from a longlist of 10 books -- comprising six translated works -- which was announced last month.

The shortlist was selected by a panel of five judges, consisting journalist and editor AS Panneerselvan, author Amitabha Bagchi, author-academician Rakhee Balaram, translator-historian J Devika and author Janice Pariat.

"Judging literature is a challenge. From exploring new content and deploying various literary devices, authors constantly try to push the boundary. Every step is crucial and every innovation is precious," said jury head Panneerselvan.

"All the novels in the shortlist exemplify the idea of empathy, concern for fellow humans, and in a sense a worldview in which the head does not subsume the heart," he added.

Each of the five shortlisted authors will receive one lakh, and translators Rs 50,000.

Literary director Mita Kapur said the list of shortlisted books "brings forth the many Indias across time and geography".

"The fact that in the 5th year of the JCB Prize for Literature we have the most diverse shortlist yet, fills us with hope... This is truly representative of the spectrum of languages, authors and publishers that make up our industry, but most of all it represents the quality of excellent writing that India has to offer," she added.

The winner of the Rs 25-lakh JCB Prize for Literature will be announced on November 19. The translator will receive an additional Rs 10 lakh.


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