This past Sunday, the audience at the Taj Palace in New Delhi was treated to a heartwarming celebration of Indian women authors in conjunction with the announcement of the winners of the AutHer Awards 2023. The Times of India and JK Paper collaborated to create the AutHer Awards, which honors female writers who have contributed to literature’s value and creativity. Some of the biggest names in the literary world witnessed the fourth edition of the AutHer Awards, including writers, publishers, academicians, book lovers, bureaucrats, politicians, and artists. The 2023 AutHer Awards’ chief guest was seasoned performer Shabana Azmi.
The champions of the four main categories—fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature, and debut—of the AutHer Awards 2023 have been revealed. Additionally, a prize for the People’s Choice category and a Lifetime Achievement award were presented. This year, a brand-new award title for the best manuscript was added.
Janice Pariat won the AutHer Awards 2023-Best Author Fiction for her book “Everything the Light Touches,” which was released by HarperCollins.
For her HarperCollins-published book “The Immortal King Rao,” Vauhini Vara received the AutHer Awards 2023-Best Author Debut Award.
This year, two female authors shared the AutHer Awards 2023 for Best Children’s Author! In addition to author Bijal Vachharajani, author Vaishali Shroff also received recognition for her children’s book, “Batata, Pao and All Things Portuguese,” which was released by Hachette India. (published by The People Place Project). It should be mentioned that Bijal Vachharajani also received an AutHer Award for her book “A Cloud Called Bhura” in 2019.
Vaishnavi Roy, whose book “Unwind” was published by The Write Order, received the Popular Choice Award for receiving the most online votes.
This year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Indian English-language literature was Shashi Deshpande, a veteran writer and feminist.
Aditi Sowmyanarayan of Bangalore won the AutHer Awards 2023 for Best Manuscript. The non-verbal, autistic 17-year-old author made a strong impression on the judges with her exceptional writing skills. Father Srinivasan Sowmyanarayan accepted Aditi’s medal on her behalf. In a recorded message, Aditi thanked everyone for the honor and said, “To say that I am exulted at this moment would be an understatement! Thank you to JK Paper and The Times of India for honoring my labor of love, “With You, Right Through,” with the Best Manuscript prize. It is a huge shot in the arm for me to write more, write better and bring to the fore the thinking mind behind the facade of non-speaking autism. Last, but not the least, I dedicate the award to my mother. Amma- you are, therefore I am. Thank you.”
The Best Manuscript title was closely contested by 16-year-old Ankita Pal. A Certificate of Excellence for “Throne of Dragonix” was given to her.
The choosing procedure
Multiple layers of screening were used to select the AutHer Awards 2023 Longlist, Shortlist, and Winners. This was followed by thorough deliberations among the distinguished judges. The Times of India got over 2000 entries this year for the coveted women writers awards, the first of their kind in India, from both publishers and authors. Women’s books released in India between December 2021 and November 2022 were taken into consideration by the jury.
Sonali Bendre, an actress and author, served as the chair of the committee for the AutHer Awards 2023. Dr. Vikram Sampath, an author and historian, served as the chair for the non-fiction category. Priti Paul, a prominent member of the Apeejay Surrendra Group, served as the chair for the children’s book category.
According to Sonali Bendre, chair of the fiction division for the Auther Awards 2023, , “The Auther Awards is a wonderful initiative to recognize and encourage women authors. It’s an honour to be Jury Chair for the fiction books – it’s my favourite genre and it was an absolute pleasure to read the selection this year. There were so many new voices, new styles of writing, and each had its own distinct flavour. Some of them really resonated strongly with me, with beautifully written prose, and I wish all the authors all the very best.”
While, Chair for Non-fiction– Dr Vikram Sampath said, “It was truly an honour to head the Non-fiction jury of the unique and one of its kind AutHer Awards that celebrates the best of women writers in contemporary India. Jury members Ramesh Sharma, Prabha Chandran, and I loved reading the wide and eclectic range of books in this category that ranged from biographies, history, memoirs to contemporary societal issues and politics. It was a tough task for us to zero in on the longlist and subsequent filters down to the final winner.”
Ranjit Lal, chair of the children’s category, commented on the wide range of children’s books the jury perused this year. “An eclectic collection of stories that should encourage children to bury their noses in the books! Mythology seems to be a favourite subject with children’s authors these days. The three top rankers ran a very close race indeed!”
Priti Paul, Chair- Debut category, said, “I am deeply honoured to chair the Jury for the Debut category in Season 4 of the AutHer Awards. As a book retailer, I strongly believe that the celebration of the work of women writers is long overdue. I congratulate the AutHer awards on their path breaking initiative in recognising the potential and power of writings that women authors bring to the table. The nominated authors achieved remarkable standards of creativity in their writing. On behalf of the heritage Oxford Bookstore, I wish them all the very best in their future literary endeavours. More power to Her Pen!”
The other members of the jury were:
Navtej Sarna, a former diplomat and author; Jonathan Gil Harris, a professor and author; Prabha Chandran, a former editor and communications expert; Lillete Dubey, an actress; Sunit Tandon, the director of the India Habitat Center and president of the Delhi Music Society; Swati Roy, the owner of Eureka and the founder-director of Bookaroo; and Dalbir K Madan, an expert in literacy and library consultant, and an educational entrepreneur.
Hemali Sodhi, the founder of A Suitable Agency, evaluated the Best Manuscript category of the AutHer Awards 2023.
In her inaugural address, Vinita Dawra Nangia, the literary director for the AutHer Awards, said, “This is no matter of chance, but a matter of a systematic bias that permeates the literary world. We need to create more opportunities for women authors to showcase their work and receive recognition. We need to challenge the stereotypes and and biases that limit women’s access to the literary world. The question never was, nor is whether men are better writers than women or vice versa. The point is that women must be read as writers, not women writers and their writing be appreciated without being presumed to be inferior or marginal only because of their gender!”
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