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Arunachal: Mamang Dai’s ‘Escaping the Land’ features at the 2022 longlist for JCB Prize for Literature

The JCB Prize for Literature is awarded each year to a distinguished work of fiction by an Indian writer. 

NEW DELHI- Mamang Dai’ Escaping the Land features at the 2022 longlist for JCB Prize for Literature.  Mamang Dai is a noted poet-author from Arunachal Pradesh. 

Jury Comments on Escaping the Land

Escaping the Land is a memorable account of a life lived on the North-eastern frontier of India. Amidst the varieties of masculinity portrayed in fiction the protagonist in this novel is a rare one-that of a man who fails and accepts his failure. There is an underlying intelligence that runs through the book, becoming more vivid as the narrative progresses.

Also Read- Author Mamang Dai wins Sahitya Akademi Award-2017

About Escaping the Land 

Combining history, myth and contemporary politics, Escaping the Land is a saga of a beautiful but sometimes turbulent land and its people. Acclaimed poet-novelist Mamang Dai takes us on an unforgettable journey from the land of Kojum-Koja, a sacred place beyond time, to the formation of the modern state of Arunachal Pradesh. Maying, a woman who has lived away from the state, returns in order to write a history of the people she has known and who have shaped her land. As she speaks to them and leafs through old records, a myriad stories and destinies unfold—an ancient flood and a lake full of stars; conflict and curiosity that led to the establishment of NEFA (North-east Frontier Agency); hardy men and women like Lipun, who walked the highest mountain passes and thick forests establishing connections with remote tribes; the ‘rainman’, who can read the elements because he is so closely tied to them; Umsi, who has to go far away in order to know herself; and Lutor, the shaman’s child, who can feel the pulse of his people, even when he is disillusioned with public life. But there are also land and forest mafia, corrupt politicians in cahoots with violent militants, and friends who can turn foes to satisfy their ambitions. Maying recoils from the murky theatre of the modern state, but realizes, too, that ‘our hearts are taken, given, mistaken, lost’ but ‘what is never lost is the original obsession that was a dream of love’.. Lyrical, vital and epic in scale, Escaping the Land is the story of a people and a place that is, like the best novels, the story of all humanity.

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Also Read- Khandu conveyed best wishes to Padmashree Mamang Dai

JCB Prize for Literature

The longlist for 2022 is dominated by 6 translations. Amidst titles in Bengali and Malayalam, titles in Urdu, Hindi and Nepali have been featured in the longlist for the first time. A truly diverse representation of what Indian fiction has to offer, the 2022 longlist brings forth stories from Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Kalimpong, Punjab, Kolkata, Kerala and the heartland.

The longlist was chosen from a vast range of submissions by writers from sixteen states writingin eight languages including English, published between 1st August 2021 and 31st July 2022.

The list of ten novels was selected by a panel of five judges: AS Panneerselvan, (Chair) journalist and editor, Amitabha Bagchi, author; Rakhee Balaram, author and academician; Dr. J Devika, translator, historian and academician; and Janice Pariat, author.

The JCB Prize for Literature is awarded each year to a distinguished work of fiction by an Indian writer. The jury will announce the shortlist of five titles in October.  The winner of the Rs 25-lakh JCB Prize for Literature will be announced on 19th November.  If the winning work is a translation, the translator will receive an additional Rs 10 lakh.  Each of the 5 shortlisted authors will receive Rs 1 lakh; if a shortlisted work is a translation, the translator will receive Rs 50,000.

The 2022 longlist is:

  • Rohzinby Rahman Abbas, translated from the Urdu by Sabika Abbas Naqvi (Vintage Books, 2022)
  • ImaanbyManoranjanByapari, translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha (EKA, 2021)
  • Escaping the Land byMamang Dai (Speaking Tiger, 2021)
  • Paradise of Foodby Khalid Jawed, translated from the Urdu by Baran Farooqi (Juggernaut, 2022)
  • Song of the Soil by Chuden Kabimo, translated from the Nepali by AjitBaral (Rachna Books, 2021)
  • Spirit Nightsby EasterineKire (Simon &Schuster, 2022)
  • Crimson Springby Navtej Sarna (Aleph Book Company, 2022)
  • The Odd Book of Baby Namesby Anees Salim(Penguin Hamish Hamilton, 2021)
  • Tomb of Sandby Geetanjali Shree, translated from the Hindi by Daisy Rockwell(Penguin Random House India, 2022)
  • Valli by Sheela Tomy, translated from the Malayalam by Jayasree Kalathil (Harper Perennial, 2022)

Now in its 5th year, the JCB Prize for Literature has had four winners so far, the 2018 Prize was awarded to Benyamin for his Jasmine Days, translated from the Malayalam by Shahnaz Habib. In 2019 the Prize went to Madhuri Vijay for The Far Field. In 2020 the Prize was awarded toS. Hareesh for his Moustache translated by Jayasree Kalathil from the Malayalam, followed by M.Mukundan’sDelhi: A Soliloquy translated by Fathima E.V. and Nandakumar K. in 2021.

Talking about the journey of the JCB Prize for Literature and the support it has had from the industry, MitaKapur, Literary Director, said:

“The JCB Prize is chuffed with pride to announce a Longlist of ten books that are bracing, vigorous, transformative, experimental in voice and story. Elemental to storytelling, each book takes soaring flights of imagination even as it is strongly rooted in India. The Prize enters its fifth year, marking 50 Longlisted titles that catch the pulse of our literary traditions. This journey, of course, would be incomplete without the publishers who bring these stories to light, the bookstores, online and offline, that give them a platform and the readers who open themselves to the new worlds these books create.”

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