The winner of the JCB Prize for Literature 2020 has been announced. This year S Hareesh has won the prize for his novel, Moustache. The book has been translated into English by Jayasree Kalathil and published by HarperCollins India. The winner was announced by Lord Bamford, Chairman, in a virtual awards ceremony.
Moustache was chosen among the five books in the shortlist which consisted of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara, Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu, Prelude to a Riot by Annie Zaidi, and These, Our Bodies, Possessed by Light by Dharini Bhaskar.
— The JCB Prize for Literature (@TheJCBPrize) November 7, 2020
The JCB Prize for Literature is regarded as the richest literary prize in India. As per the norm, the Malayalam author will receive a ₹25 lakh cash prize and the translator will receive an additional ₹10 lakh. In the past, S Hareesh has received several honours including Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Thomas Mundassery Prize, and the VP Sivakumar Memorial Prize among others.
The jury this year consisted of Tejaswini Niranjana, professor, cultural theorist, Deepika Sorabjee, head of the Arts and Culture portfolio at Tata Trusts, Aruni Kashyap, writer and translator and Ramu Ramanathan, playwright, and director. The book has been hailed for its impeccable match of myth with magic. Speaking on it, Niranjana said, “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.”