Follow Mint Lounge

Latest Issue

Home > How To Lounge> Books > Women writers, debuts dominate the JCB Prize for Literature 2020 longlist

Women writers, debuts dominate the JCB Prize for Literature 2020 longlist

Of the 10 books selected for India's richest prize for fiction writing, four are debuts, and two are works in translation

The JCB Prize for Literature longlist.
The JCB Prize for Literature longlist.

Six books by women writers, four debuts and two works in translation feature in the longlist of the JCB Prize for Literature 2020, announced on Tuesday. The ten books cover a range of genres as well—from Samit Basu's fantasy novel Chosen Spirits to Deepa Anappara's internationally acclaimed experimental novel Djinn Patrol On The Purple Line to Malayalam writer S. Hareesh's avant-garde novel Moustache, translated into English by Jayasree Kalathil.

With a prize money of 25 lakhs for the winner and 1 lakh for each of the shortlisted writers, the JCB Prize for Literature is India's richest award that is given to a work of fiction annually. If the winning work is a translation, the translator gets an additional 10 lakhs, and a shortlisted translator also gets 50,000.

This year's longlist was decided by a jury of four: Tejaswini Niranjana, author and professor; Aruni Kashyap, author; Ramu Ramanathan, playwright and director; and Deepika Sorabjee, head of arts and culture portfolio at the Tata Trusts.

In a press note, the jury explained its selection process as being guided by a "comparative framework for evaluation" based on the following criteria: "the texture, the plot of the narrative, how compelling the book was, its readability, the point of view of the characters and if the language of the character matches that point of view."Commenting on the diversity of genres in the longlist, Mita Kapur, literary director of the prize, added: "Myth, dystopia, history, romance, technology, politics and family sagas–there's something for every kind of reader."

The ten books and their publishers this year are Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara (Penguin Random House India, 2020), In Search of Heer by Manjul Bajaj (Westland, 2019), Undertow by Jahnavi Barua (Penguin Random House India, 2020), Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu (Simon & Schuster India, 2020), These, Our Bodies, Possessed by Light by Dharini Bhaskar (Hachette India, 2019), Moustache by S. Hareesh, translated from the Malayalam by Jayasree Kalathil (HarperCollins, 2020), A Burning by Megha Majumdar (Penguin Random House India, 2020), A Ballad of Remittent Fever: A Novel by Ashoke Mukhopadhyay, translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha (Aleph Book Company, 2020), The Machine is Learning by Tanuj Solanki (Pan Macmillan, 2020), and Prelude to A Riot: A Novel by Annie Zaidi (Aleph Book Company, 2019).

Instituted in 2018, the inaugural JCB Prize went to Malayalam writer Benyamin and his English translator Shahnaz Habib for the novel Jasmine Days. Last year the prize was given to Madhuri Vijay for her novel The Far Field. The shortlist will be announced on 15 September, followed by the winner on 7 November

Next Story