Writer Perumal Murugan won the JCB Prize for Literature 2022 for his novel Fire Bird, translated from the Tamil into English by Janani Kannan. The novel was published by Penguin Random House India.

The winner was announced at a ceremony in New Delhi on Saturday. Murugan will receive Rs 25 lakh, while Kannan will receive Rs 10 lakh as cash awards.

Neither Murugan nor Kannan could be present for the ceremony. Their acceptance speeches were played as video clips.

A review published in Scroll says, “Always in our eyeline, it also lies at the heart of the plot’s query: what are people without their land? Murugan foregrounds this idea through a clever premise, tracing the aftershocks of an abrupt and disproportionate split of a family’s farming land to ask: what happens to Muthu and Peruma, who know nothing but this life, when left with too little for sustenance? The story follows Muthu as he searches for new land in hopes of a better life – for land is life to a farmer.”

The other four books on the shortlist, two of them translations, were The Nemesis, by Manoranjan Byapari, translated from the Bengali by V Ramaswamy; I Named My Sister Silence, by Manoj Rupda, translated from the Hindi by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar; Mansur, by Vikramajit Ram; The Secret of More, Tejaswini Apte-Rahm.

This year’s jury comprised author and translator Srinath Perur as chair, playwright and stage director Mahesh Dattani, author, critic and learning designer Somak Ghoshal, author and surgeon Kavery Nambisan, and journalist and filmmaker Swati Thiyagarajan.