Despite the still raging Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 has proven to be a productive year for the new books. Here is a selection of books that have won various literary awards in India.
JCB Prize for Literature
JCB Prize for Literature 2021 awarded to M Mukundan for her novel Delhi: a soliloquy. The novel describes the experiences of the Malayali community in Delhi over the years, presenting incidents like anti-Sikh violence or the urgency from their perspective. The novel, written in Malayalam was translated into English by Fathima EV and Nandakumar K.
Tata Literature Live Awards
The 2021 Tata Literature Live Awards were announced at the Literary Festival held in Mumbai in November.
- Asoca: a sutra Irwin Allan Sealy won book of the year in the fiction category. As the title suggests, Sealy’s historical fictional epic explores the life of Emperor Ashoka the Great of the former Mauryan Empire of India.
- The award for Non-Fiction Book of the Year went to Born a Muslim: some truths about Islam in India by Ghazala Wahab. The book presents an account of personal stories of growing up as a Muslim in India within the context of the country’s politics and history. It also deals with the social structures of religion, including gender and caste.
Here are the other Tata Literature Live Awards winning books.
- Prize for the first book (fiction): A death in Shonagachhi by Rijula Das. Das’ debut novel is not only a murder mystery, but also delves into contemporary debates about sex work, conventional ideas about love and romance, and the figure of the helpless woman in need of a ‘rescue’ .
- First book price (non-fiction): Landscapes of loss: the story of an Indian drought by Kavitha Iyer Landscapes of loss: the story of an Indian drought tells the stories of Marathwada – an area of Maharashtra that has seen an increase in farmer suicides and cyclical droughts – through marginal farmers, Dalits, landless workers, farm widows and children of the region.
- Business Book of the Year Award: Pandemonium: the great Indian banking tragedy, by Tamal Bandyopadhyay. Bandopadhyay is a journalist who has written extensively on the country’s banking sector. His award-winning book gives readers insight into topics such as public sector bank consolidation, bad debts, non-performing assets, and more.
Atta Galatta Book Prize
These awards are a joint initiative of Bangalore-based Atta Galatta Bookstore and the Bangalore Literature Festival.
- Gyan Chaturvedi Alipura, translated by Salim Yusufji, won the award in the fiction category at the 2021 edition of the awards. Alipura is the story of a family from the Bundelkhand region of northern India in the 1960s.
- Ghazala Wahab’s Born a Muslim: some truths about Islam in India won in the non-fiction category.
- Shabnam Minwalla Saira Zariwala is afraid, a detective story about a young girl and her new cell phone under frightening circumstances, was voted best book in the young adult category.
- Priyanka Chopra Jonas Unfinished: A thesis – an autobiographical book that highlights major events in his life – won the People’s Choice award.
Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay New India Foundation Book Prize
Valley of Words Book Prize
- The Valley of Words Foundation Trust “Translated into English” Category Award went to The loneliness of Hira Barua, a collection of short stories, by Arupa Patangia Kalita. The book was originally published in Assamese under the name Mariam Austin Othoba Hira Barua and won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2014. It was translated into English by Ranjita Biswas in 2020.
- Originally written in Marathi, Shanankumar Limbale’s Sanatan was declared the winner in the “translated into hindi” category. The book was translated by Padmaja Ghorpade.
Here are the other winners of the Valley of Words Book Awards 2021.
- Hindi non-fiction: Vidrohi Sanyaasi by Rajeev Sharma. This is a novel based on the life of the philosopher Adi Shankaracharya.
- Writings for young adults: Loki takes care by Menaka Raman. The book introduces 11-year-old protagonist Lokanayaki Shanmugam and her quest to play cricket for a local team that has a strict “boys-only” policy.
- Hindi fiction: Kulbhooshan Ka Naam Darj Keejiye by Alka Saraogi.
- Non-fiction in English: Jinnah: Its successes, its failures and its role in history by Ishtiaq Ahmed, Swedish political scientist and author of Pakistani origin. His book on Muhammad Ali Jinnah traces the leader’s beginnings as an Indian nationalist to Muslim communalism, then to the newly formed head of state of Pakistan.
- Creative writing in English (fiction and poetry): Analogue / Virtual by Lavanya Lakshminarayan. Set in a dystopian future, Analogue / Virtual is the story of the world where technology, productivity and success are at the fore, and failure means having to live without access to technology.
- Children’s writings / picture books: A quiet girl from Paro Anand, the story of a young child named Puja and his best friend, a foal named Takbak.
Kalinga Book Prize
- Actress Divya Dutta won the Kalinga Literary Women Writer Award for her book Stars in my sky. The book is a look back at his Bollywood journey and talks about actors and directors who have made significant contributions to his career. “I’m now romancing with heroes in their forties that I dreamed of in my twenties,” Dutta said. “But I do it because I know the work you do will stay forever if you put your passion into it.”
- Journalist Tamal Bandopadhyay won the best writer award in the economy category for his book Pandemonium: the great Indian banking tragedy.
- Non-fiction: Princestan: How Nehru, Patel and Mountbatten created India by Sandeep Bamzai. The book sheds light on how a number of princely states did not want to join India or Pakistan when the plan for India’s liberation from British rule was being drawn up.
- Youth literature: Grandparent Stories Bag by Sudha Murthy. This book is a collection of short children’s stories designed by Murthy to beat the Covid-19 lockdown blues.
Neev Book Prize
The Neev Book Awards, an initiative of the Neev Literature Festival, celebrate “outstanding children’s literature”.
- The winner of the Early Childhood category is Vinitha R for her book Ammu and the sparrows. In this picture book, a little boy named Ammu spends time with his grandmother, feeds the birds, and waits for a visit from his favorite sparrows.
- Nandita da Cunha won in the category of emerging readers for her book The miracle of Sunderbaag street, Who follows young Zara and Miss Gappi through an adventure that “changes Zara’s life”.
- Devika Cariapa, William Dalrymple and Anita Anand The Adventures of Kohinoor was declared the winner in the category of junior readers. It is the story of the “most unlucky diamond in the world”, the Kohinoor, and the bad luck it brings to its owners.
- Devashish Makhija won for his book Oonga in the young adult category. Oonga was originally a movie, released in 2013 at film festivals, but not in India. Tulika Publishers reportedly approached Makhija when they decided to convert this film into a book that revolves around tribal culture, mining development and conflict.
Sushila Devi Award for Best Fictional Book by a Woman Author
- Anukrti Upadhyay won the award for her novel, Kintsugi. Named after the ancient Japanese art of mending broken objects with gold, it’s a novel about young women crossing borders, overcoming trauma, and questioning social order.