Mukandan’s ‘Delhi: A Soliloquy’ wins JCB Prize for Literature 2021
Delhi: A Soliloquy by M Mukundan, translated from the Malayalam by Fathima EV and Nandakumar K, has been adjudged the winner of the Rs 25 lakh JCB Prize for Literature. The winner was announced by Lord Bamford, Chairman, JCB in a hybrid awards ceremony.
The novel is a narrative of epic proportions and casts an unflinching gaze at the country’s Capital as it changes into the megalopolis that it is today. This is the third translation to win the award. Mukundan received the prize trophy, which a sculpture by Delhi artist duo Thukral & Tagra entitled ‘Mirror Melting’. It was the unanimous choice of the jury comprising Sara Rai (Chair), Annapurna Garimella, Shahnaz Habib, Prem Panicker, and Amit Varma.
JCB Chairman Lord Bamford (left) and author M Mukandan
The jury was all praise for the author and his work. “The book speaks with grace and poise of the large lives of small people in a city with a broken soul. Clairvoyant in its human empathy, this extraordinary book is the distillation of a lifetime of experience,” said Sara Rai (Chair). In the words of Annapurna Garimella “it deserves to win because it is a finely written novel of many stories, set in an epic city”. “Mukundan’s characters take us back to a time when the promises of the new nation broke; through them, we understand that kindness can endure even as political and social forms fail to fulfil hopes and dreams,” she remarked.
“This book is full of bit players, and in the quiet and grim unfolding of their lives, against the political crises of the sixties and seventies and eighties, Mukundan invests their lives with the quiet dignity of witnessing,” added Shahnaz Habib.
“It is a masterful novel that zooms into the interior life of its characters, zooms out to paint a picture of the times, and makes both equally vivid. It is that rare book that succeeds in being both intimate and epic,” said Amit Varma.
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