Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize 2022 Shortlist announced

Five fascinating books have been shortlisted for the fifth Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize, recognising and celebrating outstanding non-fiction writings on modern and contemporary India. The shortlisted books range from histories of nationalism through local voices, to analysis of an environmental movement, the portrait of a diverse community, and contemporary ideas of feminism and data – all converging towards an optimistic future.

16 Nov 2022 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

One of the most prestigious book prizes of the country, the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay Book Prize celebrates excellence in non-fiction literature about India, published in the previous calendar year by emerging writers of all nationalities. Established in 2018, the Book Prize carries a cash award of Rs 15 lakh and a citation.

This year, the Jury has selected five powerful books from the ten longlisted titles. Each shortlisted book is representative of the incredible variety and strength of the non-fiction narratives emerging from our multi-layered society. These books are each thoroughly researched and lucidly written, engender conscious conversation, and intricately blend the country’s rich history with compelling contemporary ideas.

This year’s eminent jury includes political scientist and author Niraja Gopal Jayal (Chair); entrepreneur Manish Sabharwal; historian and author Srinath Raghavan; historian and author Nayanjot Lahiri; former diplomat and author Navtej Sarna; and attorney and author Rahul Matthan.

According to the Jury, “This year’s shortlist is extraordinary, in terms of the wide range of themes covered, and the diversity of topics and perspectives. Deeply researched and engagingly written, these books offer keen insights into the making of India today and the transitions it is currently undergoing.”

The five books shortlisted for the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize 2022 are:

Accidental Feminism: Gender Parity and Selective Mobility Among India’s Professional Elite by Swethaa S Ballakrishnen (Princeton University Press)

The Chipko Movement: A People’s History by Shekhar Pathak, translated by Manisha Chaudhry (Permanent Black & Ashoka University)

Whole Numbers and Half Truths: What Data Can and Cannot Tell Us About Modern India by Rukmini S (Context/Westland)

Midnight’s Borders: A People’s History of Modern India by Suchitra Vijayan (Context/Westland)

Born a Muslim: Some Truths about Islam in India by Ghazala Wahab (Aleph)

The Kamaladevi Chattopadhayay NIF Book Prize builds on the New India Foundation’s mission of rewarding exceptional scholarship on all aspects of independent India. The prize was named after Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, the great patriot and institution-builder who had contributed significantly to the freedom struggle, to the women’s movement, to refugee rehabilitation and to the renewal of handicrafts. 

Previous winners of the prize include Milan Vaishnav for his remarkable book, When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics (HarperCollins Publishers) in 2018 and Ornit Shani for her scholarly work How India Became Democratic (Penguin Random House) in 2019. The 2020 Prize was jointly awarded to Amit Ahuja for his outstanding debut Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties Without Ethnic Movements (Oxford University Press) and Jairam Ramesh for his compelling biography of VK Krishna Menon, A Chequered Brilliance (Penguin Random House). Dinyar Patel won the 2021 Book Prize for his scholarly biography on Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism (Harvard University Press).

The winner of the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize will be announced on 1st December 2022.