Author M Mukundan wins JCB Prize for Literature 2021

Author M Mukundan received the JCB Prize for Literature 2021 for his novel Delhi: A Soliloquy on Saturday. The novel which was published by Westland Books, was originally written in Malayalam and was translated into English by Fathima EV and Nandakumar K.

Mukundan shall be receiving a prize amount of Rs 25 lakh, while Fathima and Nandakumar will receive an amount of Rs 10 lakh.

The Award winning author said receiving the award was a great moment and one that he will cherish. He added that the JCB Prize shall 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 talks about several important moments in Independent India’s history, as seen from the protagonist’s perspective, including the Emergency and the anti-Sikh riots.

“Against the backdrop of chaos, the characters do their best to build themselves dignified lives,” a review of the book 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.”

Mukundan was born on 10 September 1942 at Mahe, then a French overseas territory and now a part of Puducherry Union Territory in South India. He served as an official of the New Delhi office of the Embassy of France in Delhi.

His first literary work was a short story published in 1961, while the first novel, Delhi was published in 1969. Mukundan has so far published 12 novels which include his later works such as Adithyanum Radhayum Mattu Chilarum, Oru Dalit Yuvathiyude Kadanakatha, Kesavante Vilapangal and Nritham and ten collections of short stories (which totals 171 in numbers till 2012). 

Adithyanum Radhayum Mattu Chilarum is a fictional story which dethrone the time from the narrative, it gives the readers a new method of writing. Oru Dalit Yuvathiyude Kadanakatha reveals how Vasundhara, an actress has been insulted in the course of acting due to some unexpected situations.

It proclaims the postmodern message that martyrs are created not only through ideologies, but through art also. Kesavante Vilapangal (Kesavan’s Lamentations) one of his later works tells the story of a writer Kesavan who writes a novel on a child named Appukkuttan who grows under the influence of E. M. S. Namboodiripad.

Daivathinte Vikrithikal has been translated into English and published By Penguin Books India.

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