Tamil writer Perumal Murugan’s novel ‘Fire Bird’, translated into English by Janani Kannan, won the 2023 JCB Prize for Literature, which was announced in New Delhi on Saturday. The book was published by Penguin Random House India. As neither Murugan nor Kannan were present at the award ceremony, publisher and author Manasi Subramaniam received the prize on their behalf.
The award was announced virtually by Lord Bamford, Chairman of JCB Group, and awarded in person by Deepak Shetty, CEO and Managing Director, JCB India Limited. The JCB Literary Prize award carries Rs 25 lakh to the author and an additional Rs 10 lakh to the translator.
The chair of the five-member jury of the JCB Prize, author Srinath Perur, said, “In ‘Fire Bird’, 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 in the world.”
Journalist and filmmaker Swati Thiyagarajan, who was also part of the jury, called the novel “a powerful evocative story of an ordinary life”. “For readers in English, and not from rural Tamil Nadu, it’s an immersion into a world, a time, a place that will enrich your understanding of a part of our country in a way that you will carry it with you long after you turn the last page,” said Thiyagarajan.