Author M Mukundan on Saturday received the JCB Prize for Literature 2021 for his novel Delhi: A Soliloquy.

The novel, published by Westland Books, was originally written in Malayalam and was translated into English by Fathima EV and Nandakumar K.

While Mukundan will receive a prize amount of Rs 25 lakh, Fathima and Nandakumar will receive an amount of Rs 10 lakh.

Mukundan said receiving the award was a great moment and one that he will cherish. He added that the JCB Prize will give the book greater visibility and help it reach more readers.

“I dedicate this award to the poor people on the streets of Delhi,” Mukundan said.

The novel describes the experiences of a Malayali youth, Sahadevan, in Delhi. It speaks about several key moments in Independent India’s history, as seen from the protagonist’s perspective – including the Emergency and the anti-Sikh riots.

A review of Delhi: A Soliloquy by Sahana Hegde on notes that the novel “is neither solely character-driven nor solely plot-driven, which is really the best way to tell a story like this”.

“Against the backdrop of chaos, the characters do their best to build themselves dignified lives,” the review said. “There are books that achieve this effect by zooming in and out of the picture, and Mukundan certainly does that too to an extent, but the form the book really takes is that of a slow-paced story punctuated – punctured – every now and again by whatever fresh hell the Powers That Be (the Indian, Chinese, and Pakistani governments) manage to cook up next.”

The other books on the JCB Prize shortlist were Anti-Clock by VJ James (Penguin Random House India), Name Place Animal Thing by Daribha Lyndem (Zubaan Publishers), The Plague Upon Us by Shabir Ahmad Mir (Hachette India) and Gods and Ends by Lindsay Pereira (Penguin Random House India).

The jury for the award comprised Sara Rai (Chair), Annapurna Garimella, Shahnaz Habib, Prem Panicker and Amit Varma.

Also read:

  1. JCB Prize for Literature 2021: What you’ll read if you start on the 10 novels on the longlist
  2. ‘Delhi’: M Mukundan’s novel tracks a series of misfortunes faced by Malayalis in the capital
  3. JCB Prize shortlist 2021: VJ James, Daribha Lyndem, Shabir Ahmad Mir, M Mukundan, Lindsay Pereira