Kolkata: If you are writing in India, in English, or in any of the regional languages and have your work translated in English, your romance with the pen or a computer keyboard could just look a whole lot sweeter with the country’s richest recognition coming your way.
That’s because the JCB Literary Foundation which was set up by JCB, an earthmoving and construction equipment manufacturing company, has announced the inaugural JCB Prize for Literature for works of fiction by Indian writers and is open for entries till May 31, 2018.
For a whopping Rs 25 lakh reward for the winner, the Foundation believes that the annual prize would “discover and celebrate Indian writers and break down the barriers separating literature in different Indian languages”.
What’s more, the Foundation announced a separate award of Rs 5 lakh for the translator if the winning book is translated. The jury would announce its longlist of prospective winners in September followed by a shortlist in October. The winner would be announced in November. All shortlisted authors would be awarded Rs 1 lakh each.
The Foundation has roped in an impressive panel of jury members for the inaugural year comprising Oscar-nominated filmmaker Deepa Mehta, Rohan Murty, founder of Murty Classical Library of India at Harvard, Priyamvada Natrajan, writer and theoretical astrophysicist at Yale, author Vivek Shanbhag and author and translator Arshia Sattar.
Award winning novelist and essayist Rana Dasgupta, the literary director of the prize, feels that the time is ripe to assimilate the distinct and multiple literary traditions of the country under one umbrella to provide readers with the sense of the variety that is “Indian literature”. “With this prize we hope to stimulate far more translation between Indian languages, and so to give people a far deeper sense of what other people are talking and thinking about in the country,” Dasgupta explained.
The literary director has the support of an advisory council of the Foundation headed by former CII chief mentor Tarun Das and comprising author Amitav Ghosh, academic Harish Trivedi and art historian Pheroza Godrej as co-members.
“With the exception of writers who have been made famous by prizes in the US and UK, literary achievement receives rather little attention in India,” Das said hoping that the JCB Prize would trigger a much larger conversation around books, authors and reading in India.