Perumal Murugan’s Fire Bird wins the JCB Prize for Literature

Celebrated Tamil novelist Perumal Murugan has won the JCB Prize for Literature 2022 for his novel Fire Bird, translated from the Tamil into English by Janani Kannan. The novel was published by Penguin Random House India.

22 Nov 2023 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

The winning author will receive Rs 25 lakh, and the translator, Rs 10 lakh

The winner was announced at a ceremony in New Delhi on Saturday. Murugan will receive Rs 25 lakh, while Kannan will receive Rs 10 lakh as cash awards.

Neither Murugan nor Kannan could be present for the ceremony. Their acceptance speeches were played as video clips.

“In Fire Bird, Perumal Murugan takes a universal story of lives that are tied to land and tells it with astonishing particularity. Janani Kannan's translation carries into English the rhythms not only of Tamil but of an entire way of being,” Srinath Perur, head of the jury, said. 

The jury also included critic and learning designer Somak Ghoshal, playwright Mahesh Dattani, conservation journalist Swati Thiyagarajan, and the surgeon-novelist Kavery Nambisan.

This is the fifth translated work to have won the annual award that recognises works of fiction by an Indian author.

The other four books on the shortlist, two of them translations, were The Nemesis, by Manoranjan Byapari, translated from the Bengali by V Ramaswamy; I Named My Sister Silence, by Manoj Rupda, translated from the Hindi by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar; Mansur, by Vikramajit Ram; and The Secret of More by Tejaswini Apte-Rahm.