‘Delhi: A soliloquy’ by M. Mukundan, translated from Malayalam has won the 2021 JCB Prize for Literature!

‘Delhi: A soliloquy’ is a translation of a Malayali book Delhi Gathakal by Fathima EV and Nandakumar K and has won a prize amount of Rs. 25 lakh.

Since 2018, The JCB Prize for Literature is creating visibility for contemporary Indian writing. It aims to introduce the works of Indian literature written in different languages. This year, author M. Mukundan was the one who spilled his ink and translated the work of  Fathima E.V. and Nandakumar K. from Malayalam to English. M. Mukundan’s ‘Delhi: A Soliloquy’, which is a depiction of Delhi and Delhi Malayalis from the perspective of the protagonists, was the unanimous choice of the jury at 2021 JCB!

Delhi: A soliloquy

Experiences of a Malayali youth in Delhi

After S Hareesh’s ‘Moustache’ and Benyamin’s ‘Jasmine Days‘, Mukundan’s novel is the third translation that has won the JCB Prize. He dedicates his award to the poor people on the streets of Delhi. He says this is a novel about the poor people of Delhi, who live in filth. Mukundan has received a prize amount of Rs. 25 lakh for his amazing translation, while Fathima and Nandakumar will also receive Rs.10 lakh for their original work.

The novel narrates the experiences of a Malayali youth, Sahadevan, in Delhi. It also captures moments like the Emergency and the anti-Sikh riots in Independent India’s history through the protagonist’s lens.

The winning book was selected by a panel of five judges: Sara Rai (Chair), Annapurna Garimella, Shahnaz Habib, Prem Panicker, and Amit Varma. “It speaks with the grace of the large lives of small people in a city with a broken soul.”, said Sara Rai. While Amit Verma added that the winning novel zooms into the interior life of its characters. ” It zooms out to paint a picture of the times and makes both equally vivid.”, he said.

Mukundan rose to critical acclaim and popularity with Mayyazhippuzhayude Theerangalil  in 1974. His stories and novels have been widely translated into various Indian languages, English and French. He has received literary honors and awards like  Ezhuthachan Puraskaram, the Sahitya Akademi award, and N.V. Puraskaram. Mukundan is also a recipient of the insignia of Chevalier by the French government. Not just this, he has even served as the president of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi from 2006-2010.

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