Meghalaya’s Janice Pariat has been longlisted for the sixth edition of the JCB Prize for Literature for her book, “Everything the Light Touches.”
The prize is India’s richest literary award which celebrates distinguished fiction by Indian writers.
Pariat’s book tells the story of four individuals across space and time as they grapple with questions of identity, colonialism and scientific temperament – all with a healthy dose of snarky scepticism.
Translated literary works from Bengali, Hindi and Tamil along with debut novels have dominated the longlist for the prize which was announced on Saturday.
The longlisted translated works include “Fire Bird” by Perumal Murugan (translated from Tamil by Janani Kannan), “The Nemesis” by Manoranjan Byapari (translated from Bengali by V Ramaswamy), “I Named my Sister Silence” by Manoj Rupda (translated from Hindi by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar), and “Simsim” by Geet Chaturvedi (translated from Hindi by Anita Gopalan).
Apart from Chaturvedi’s “Simsim”, “The Secret of More” by Tejaswini Apte-Rahm and Bikram Sharma’s “The Colony of Shadows” are their respective author’s debut works that have been longlisted for the prize.
“The East Indian” by Brinda Charry, “Mansur” by Vikramajit Ram and “Manjhi’s Mayhem” by Tanuj Solanki are also in the competition for the literary award.
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 jury for the sixth edition of the prize includes author and translator Srinath Perur (chair), playwright Mahesh Dattani, writers Somak Ghoshal, Kavery Nambisan, and conservation journalist Swati Thiyagarajan.
Talking about the longlist, Perur said that the jury read the entries over the last few months and met online every couple of weeks.
“We read for freshness, relevance, accomplishment and ambition among other things. And we read for pleasure. We were often in agreement, and when we were not, it was instructive to consider a book from other perspectives. Given the quality of the entries, it felt like we could easily have come up with a solid second longlist,” Perur said in a statement.
He added as a collective, the books represent “a fine sampling of the breadth and quality of Indian novels published in English over the last year”.
While the winner will receive a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh, if it is a translation, the translator will also receive a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh. Each of the five shortlisted authors will receive Rs one lakh and if the shortlisted work is a translation, the translator will receive Rs 50,000.
“The Longlisted books for 2023 are truly a dynamic reflection of Indian fiction at its finest. It is a privilege to celebrate these ten books that make our lives richer, expansive; that explore depths of our understanding of how we navigate ourselves through the unique, the mundane, the ugly, the beautiful, and the wonderful moments of human existence,” Mita Kapur, literary director, JCB Prize for Literature, said.
The shortlist of five books will be unveiled on October 20 and the winner will be announced on November 18. (With PTI inputs)