Malayam writer S Hareesh bags 2020 JCB Prize for Literature

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New Delhi, Nov 7 (PTI) “Moustache” by S Hareesh, translated from the Malayalam by Jayasree Kalathil, was announced the winner of the Rs 25-lakh JCB Prize for Literature on Saturday.

The book, which is the author’s debut novel, is a contemporary classic mixing magic, myth and metaphor into a tale of far-reaching resonance.

It is the second debut novel as well as the second Malayalam translation to win the award.

The book was selected by a panel of four judges — writer and translator Aruni Kashyap, professor, cultural theorist and author Tejaswini Niranjana, playwright and director Ramu Ramanathan, and Head of the Arts & Culture portfolio at Tata Trusts Deepika Sorabjee.

“Moustache is a fine work of Indian fiction by a highly regarded Malayalam author whose work is now coming into English translation. Hareesh engages in an agile and deeply insightful way with the caste and gender equations of the Kuttanad region in this intricate and highly readable story.

“Jayasree Kalathil’s translation of the novel is fluent and energetic. She conveys the specificity of the context without missing the wood for the trees.” Niranjana, the jury chair, said.

Kashyap said the book was “ astonishing and very original”.

“I don’t know any other novel that is actually written in this way. It is political but also a feat in storytelling.

“I think Moustache will be discussed for sure for its representation of caste politics, magic realism or folklore, the community, history of an underrepresented region called Kuttanad, but I will remember this book for its daring storytelling,” Kashyap said.

Hareesh has previously authored three short-story collections, as well as two screenplays.

Previous winners of the JCB Prize for Literature include, Benjamin, and Madhuri Vijay. PTI TRS TRS

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