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Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize longlist picks 12 power-packed titles

From a biography of V.D. Savarkar to a natural history of the Himalayas, 12 wide-ranging books vie for the 15 lakh prize

The covers of the books in the longlist of the prize.
The covers of the books in the longlist of the prize.

The Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize, instituted by the New India Foundation (NIF) in 2018, for the best book-length work of non-fiction about India announced its longlist of 12 titles for the 2020 prize. The announcement was made online on Wednesday by writer and historian Ramachandra Guha, one of the members of the jury. A shortlist of 6 will be announced on 16 November.

From a biography of V.D. Sarvarkar to an investigative book on the pharma industry, the books cover a wide and eclectic ground. Written by scholars, journalists and activists, the titles were picked by the jury, consisting of Niraja Jayal Gopal, Ramachandra Guha, Srinath Raghavan, Nayanjot Lahiri, Nandan Nilekani and Manish Sabharwal.

“It was both exciting and arduous to choose these titles among the almost one hundred books submitted for the prize," a statement from the jury said. The winning book will be awarded a prize money of 15 lakhs, along with a citation.

The Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay New India Foundation Book Prize is named after the famous freedom fighter, who died in 1988. The previous winners of the award include Milan Vaishnav for his book, When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics and Ornit Shani for her work on India’s democratic foundations.

The entire longlist is below:

Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements by Amit Ahuja (Oxford University Press)

Wild Himalaya: A Natural History of the Greatest Mountain Range on Earth by Stephen Alter (Aleph)

The Great Agrarian Conquest: The Colonial Reshaping of a Rural World by Neeladri Bhattacharya (Permanent Black/State University of New York Press)

Bottle of Lies: Ranbaxy and the Dark Side of Indian Pharma by Katherine Eban (Juggernaut)

Animal Intimacies: Beastly Love in the Himalayas by Radhika Govindrajan (Penguin Random House)

Kuknalim, Naga Armed Resistance: Testimonies of Leaders, Pastors, Healers and Soldiers by Nandita Haksar and Sebastian M. Hongray (Speaking Tiger)

A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of VK Krishna Menon by Jairam Ramesh (Penguin Random House)

The Unquiet River: A Biography of the Brahmaputra by Arupjyoti Saikia (Oxford University Press)

Savarkar: Echoes from a Forgotten Past, 1883-1924 by Vikram Sampath (Penguin Random House)

Panjab: Journey through Faultlines by Amandeep Sandhu (Westland)

2019: How Modi Won India by Rajdeep Sardesai (HarperCollins Publishers)

Midnight’s Machines: A Political History of Technology in India by Arun Mohan Sukumar (Penguin Random House)

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