I Alan Sealy’s ‘Asoca’ among 10 novels in JCB Prize for Literature 2021 longlist

New Delhi, Sep 6 : Irwin Allan Sealy's "Asoca", an imagined memoir of Ashoka The Great, the emperor who ruled most of the Indian subcontinent and played a pivotal role in the spread of Buddhism from India to other parts of Asia in the 3rd century BC, is among the 10 novels in the longlist for the Rs 25 lakh JCB Prize for Literature, India's richest literary award, announced on Monday.

Six of the 10 authors are debutants, three Malayalam translations make it to the longlist and, as a reflection of the times, all novels prominently feature themes of self-reflection, duality and morality.

The longlist was selected by a panel of five judges: Sara Rai (Chair), author and literary translator; Annapurna Garimella, designer and art historian; Shahnaz Habib, author and translator; Prem Panicker, journalist and editor; and Amit Varma, writer and podcaster.

The 2021 longlist, chosen from a wide range of submissions by writers from 16 states writing in multiple languages published between August 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021 is:

"Asoca" by Irwin Allan Sealy (Penguin Random House India)

"A Death in Sonagachhi" by Rijula Das (Pan Macmillan)

"What We Know About Her" by Krupa Ge (Westland)

"Anti-Clock" by V.J.

James, translated from Malayalam by Ministhy S. (Penguin Random House India)

"Name Place Animal Thing by Daribha Lyndem (Zubaan Publishers Pvt.


"The Plage Upon Us" by Shabir Ahmed Mir (Hachette India)

"Delhi: A Soliloquy by M.

Mukundan, translated from Malayalam by Fathima E.V. (and) Nandakumar K. (Westland)

"Gods and Ends" by Lindsay Pereira (Penguin Random House India)

"The Man Who Learnt to Fly but Could Not Land by Thachom Poyil Rajeevan, translated from Malayalam by P.J.

Mathew (Hachette India)

"The Dharma Forest" by Keerthik Sasidharan (Penguin Random House India)

The books by Rijula Das, Krupa Ge, Daribha Lyndem, Shabir Ahmed Mir, Lindsay Pereira and Keerthik Sasidharan are all debut novels.

Commenting on the longlist and the overall reading experience, Jury Chair Sara Rai observed: "While reading through the great range of books, many of them translations, that were in the running for the JCB Prize 2021, there were certain things that we had in mind -- a cohesiveness of plot and narrative, of structure and texture, metaphor, point of view, and acute angles of invention.

We looked for the focused gaze and the unique voice, one in tune with the setting and situation in the book that despite rough edges was particular and at the same time universal.

"We were after well-written and well-edited books, those that transformed you in subtle ways by providing a new perspective on contemporary Indian reality even if the work was one of historical fiction.

We found that the books on the 2021 longlist not only met these criteria, but also passed the final test - they were unforgettable and stayed with us long after we had finished reading them," Rai added.

Talking about the outreach of the prize, its Literary Director, Mita Kapur, said: "What we were looking for in the submissions this year, I think, was a sense of the world beyond ourselves.

We reached out to publishers, big and small, across the country, working with books originally in English and translated from Indian languages.

"The books we received surprised us by showing us multiple ways of living and being, taking us out of the spaces our bodies and minds were confined to.

Our continued dedication to look for great literature beyond the narrow confines of genre means that the longlist will have something for every reader," Kapur added.

The jury will announce the shortlist of five titles on October 4 and the winner on November 13.

If the winning work is a translation, the translator will receive an additional Rs 10 lakh. Each of the five shortlisted authors will receive Rs 1 lakh; if a shortlisted work is a translation, the translator will receive Rs 50,000.



Source: IANS