Urdu author Khalid Jawed wins JCB Prize 2022

Urdu author Khalid Jawed’s The Paradise of Food, translated by Baran Farooqi, was awarded the fifth JCB Prize for Literature on 20 November. The book, originally published as Ne’mat Khana in 2014, is the fourth translation to win the award and the first work in Urdu.

23 Nov 2022 | By PrintWeek Team

Jawed received the prize money of Rs 25 lakh along with a trophy. Baran Farooqi also received an additional Rs 10 lakh

The Paradise of Food tells the story of a middle-class joint Muslim family over a span of fifty years where the narrator struggles to find a place for himself, at odds in his home and the world outside.

Jawed received the prize money of Rs 25 lakh along with a trophy — a sculpture by Delhi artist duo Thukral and Tagra, Mirror Melting. Baran Farooqi also received an additional Rs 10 lakh for the award.

Receiving the award, Jawed exclaimed he had never expected his book would win this recognition. “We look for happiness every single day and in different corners of our world. But it is today that I have felt true happiness. I wrote this novel in 2014 and it is today that it has been recognised,” he said.

Jawed added it was because of Farooqi’s skill of transporting his world into another world that the novel has been recognised for the award.

The winner was selected by a panel of five judges, consisting of journalist and editor AS Panneerselvan, author Amitabha Bagchi, author-academician Rakhee Balaram, translator-historian J Devika and author Janice Pariat.

Talking about the winning work, Panneerselvan said it is “a celebration of human spirit, hope, loss, aspirations, and anxiety”.

“It is a fine artistic achievement where aesthetics negotiate a difficult political trajectory that is haunting our country. The carnivalesque element makes this a modern fable,” the jury head added.

A shortlist like none other in the award’s history, which only included translation, also featured International Booker-winning novel Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree (translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell) and Imaan by Manoranjan Byapari (translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha).

It was also for the first time that titles in Hindi and Nepali made it to the shortlist of the literary award.

The shortlist also included debut books — Song of the Soil by Chuden Kabimo (translated from Nepali by Ajit Baral) and Valli by Sheela Tomy, (translated from Malayalam by Jayasree Kalathil).

Each of the shortlisted authors also received Rs 1 lakh, and the translators Rs 50,000.

The award was instituted by the JCB Literature Foundation, a not-for-profit company, in 2018 to promote the art of literature in India.  (Courtesy PTI)