The JCB Prize for Literature announced its inaugural shortlist for 2018 in New Delhi on Wednesday. Established this year to recognise a “distinguished work of fiction by an Indian writer”, the country’s richest literary award, funded by the construction group JCB, comes with a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh for the writer and an additional Rs 5 lakh for the translator, if the winning title is one that has been translated to English.
Following the announcement of a longlist of ten novels on September 5, the current shortlist of five novels includes two works of translation and one debut novel. “In their different ways, these five novels all depict the collision of richly contemplative beings with the rapidly changing outer world,” this year’s jury said in a statement. The authors of all five shortlisted novels will receive Rs 1 lakh each and translators will receive Rs 50,000.
Replacing filmmaker Deepa Mehta (who retired from her position due to “unforeseen professional commitments”) as the new chair of the jury, novelist Vivek Shanbhag said, “The job of literature is to supply a language for reality, and these books are all exquisite in their description of the worlds – often very turbulent worlds – we inhabit. But literature is also a record of the sensitivity of the observer – and these novels are a testament to the beauty and richness of human beings’ inner lives.”
The shortlist for this year is:
- Half The Night Is Gone, Amitabha Bagchi (Juggernaut)
- Jasmine Days, Benyamin, translated by Shahnaz Habib (Juggernaut)
- Poonachi, Perumal Murugan, translated by N Kalyan Raman (Westland)
- All The Lives We Never Lived, Anuradha Roy (Hachette)
- Latitudes of Longing, Shubhangi Swarup (HarperCollins India)
The final winner will be revealed in an awards ceremony in New Delhi on October 24.