Perumal Murugan receives a ₹25 lakh cash prize after winning the JCB Prize for Literature.

Perumal Murugan, a writer from Tamil Nadu, has been awarded the JCB Prize for Literature for his English translation of his Tamil novel Aalanda Patchi, Fire Bird. The reward includes a cash payout of ₹25 lakh. Penguin published the work that Janani Kannan, the translator, did.

Aalanda Patchi is about the forced migration of an agrarian family that happened six decades ago. The tragedy of being alienated from one’s native place, land and family, new town, new landscapes, new people, new environment. They have to accept it and make it constant. I wrote the novel driven by a desire to write about the capability of a family to handle both challenges,” said Mr. Murugan. 

The protagonist of the book, Muthu, finds his entire world flipped upside down when his father splits the family land, leaving him with almost nothing and destroying the ties that bind his family.

Mr. Murugan said it was not merely the story of his ancestors or the life of his family. “I believe the novel will emotionally connect with every person displaced, small or big. The novel will also provide an experience of understanding agrarian life, the old times when there were not as many modern amenities, and the family relationships that characterise feudal life,” he added.

Fire Bird, according to the JCB Literary Prize, is a skillfully written account of one man’s quest for the illusive notion of permanency. The prize seeks to honour Indian writing and provide readers with access to the greatest modern Indian literature available worldwide. It also recognises and honours translators, without whose efforts readers would not be able to fully comprehend the breadth and depth of literature produced in more than 20 languages, the statement continued.

Mr. Murugan said he was grateful to “everyone including my ancestors who were the reason behind my writing this novel, my family which helped me in writing this, Kalachuvadu Kannan who published it in Tamil, Penguin which published it in English, translator Janani Kannan, the jury of the JCB Prize and JCB institute.”

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