Madhuri Vijay bags Crossword Book Award for novel on Kashmir

Meraj Bhat

New Delhi, Dec 15 (PTI) Author Madhuri Vijay has added a resplendent feather to her literary cap by winning the coveted Crossword Book Award for her debut novel on Kashmir, joining the pantheon of eminent Indian writers like Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, and Kiran Desai.

The prestigious award in the jury category is the third major literary prize that the Bengaluru-born, US-based writer has won for her book 'The Far Field' which came out last year.

In November last year, the 32-year-old author was crowned the winner of the JCB Prize for Literature, India's richest literary award worth Rs. 25 lakh, and also bagged the Tata Literature Live First Book Award.

'I cannot tell you how incredibly grateful I am to the jury for this wonderful award. It holds a special and personal significance for me as the Crossword book store in Bangalore introduced me to my favourite writers like Anita Desai, Vikram Chandra and Perumal Murugan while I was growing up,' Vijay told PTI.

The recipient of the Pushcart Prize, an American literary award, said whenever she visited her parents in Bengaluru, she made it a point to go to the book store, and would always leave with a stack of books and a 'renewed determination' to write.

Vijay, who until then had not written anything, said she hoped that 'one day I would see my name in one of those shops'.

'Unfortunately it didn't quite happen the way I had hoped because a couple of years ago when I was in Bangalore, I found out that the store had been closed. It was like losing a good friend,' she said.

'So, for that reason, receiving this award is doubly meaningful because it has done to me what that book store once did.

'It has introduced me to brilliant Indian writers -- my fellow nominees -- and has given me the renewed sense of confidence and determination to write. And, for both of those things, I am truly grateful. This is an honour,' she said.

Currently in its 17th edition, the Crossword Book Awards were founded in 1998 as an Indian counter to international literary honours like the Booker Prize, Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Pulitzer Prize.

The awards celebrate the best and popular Indian writing and come with a cash prize of Rs. 3 lakh for winners in the jury award category, and Rs. 1 lakh for winners in the popular choice section.

Some of the famous Crossword Book Award recipients include Rushdie, Seth, Amitav Ghosh, William Dalrymple and Pankaj Mishra.

'Stories that truly Inspire! The Crossword Book Award (Jury) for Fiction goes to the unforgettable 'The Far Field' by Madhuri Vijay published by Harper Collins India!' the Crossword Books tweeted after announcing the awards last night in Mumbai.

Vijay's novel offers an exhaustive account of Kashmir's greater tragedy and takes the reader deep into the beating heart of the Valley.

The JCB Prize jury had termed the book “an impressively ambitious novel of stunning emotional and psychological acuity' and described its author a 'luminous new talent in Indian literature'.

Vijay, who teaches at a school in Hawaii, is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and her writing has appeared in reputable American narrative magazines.

Among various categories, this year's Crossword Book Award included the Jury Awards -- Indian Fiction, Indian Non Fiction, English Language Translation and Children's Writing Award with the Popular Award -- Best Fiction Book of the year, and Best Non Fiction of the year. PTI MRJ SAR SAR