Book House

Shortlist of the Mathrubhumi Book of the Year Award 2020 announced: Know more about the shortlisted books

Shortlist of the Mathrubhumi Book of the Year Award 2020 announced: Know more about the shortlisted books
Mathrubhumi has announced the Shortlist for the Mathrubhumi Book of the Year Award 2020. Seven books have been shortlisted for the prize. It includes two debut novels and two works of translation.
The two debut novelists in the list are Roshan Ali and Madhuri Vijay. The shortlisted book of Paul Zacharia is his first English novel, though not his first book. The shortlisted novel of Manoranjan Byapari is his first work of fiction to be translated into English.
The Mathrubhumi Book of the Year Award is a commitment from Mathrubhumi to honour the best in Indian literature every year. It is the inaugural edition of the award this year.
The original works of fiction written in English and other works translated into English are considered for the award. Books published in India between 1st  September 2018 and 31st August 2019 have been considered for this year’s award.
The award comprises a prize money of Rs. 5 lakh and a momento done by a well-known artist.
The Longlist was announced early this month and included 16 novels. The longlisted books include:
1) ‘The Far Field’ by Madhuri Vijay
2) ‘The City and the Sea’ by Raj Kamal Jha
3) ‘Vanara’ by Anand Neelakantan
4) ‘Ib’s Endless Search for Satisfaction’ by Roshan Ali
5) ‘Milk Teeth’ by Amrita Mahale
6) ‘There’s Gunpowder in the Air’ by Manoranjan Byapari
7) ‘In search of Heer’ by Manjul Bajaj
8) ‘Eating Wasps’ by Anita Nair
9) ‘A Secret History of Compassion’ by Paul Zacharia
10) Bhumika: The Story of Sita’ by Aditya Iyengar
11) ‘Diary of a Malayali Madman’ by N Prabhakaran
12) ‘Blue is like Blue’ by Vinod Kumar Shukla
13) ‘Fear of Lions’ by Amita Kanekar
14) The Black Dwarves of the Good Little Bay by Varun Thomas Mathew
15) ‘The Scent of God’ by Saikat Majumdar
16) ‘The Queen of the Jasmine Country’ by Sharanya Manivannan
The winner will be declared and award will be presented during the third edition of Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL) 2020, which will be held at Kanakakkunnu Palace in Thiruvananthapuram from January 30 to February 2.

The Shortlisted books are:


Ib’s Endless Search for Satisfaction

By Roshan Ali
This debut novel of Roshan Ali has been shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Literature 2019 and the Shakti Bhatt First Book Award 2019.
The book follows Ib, who lives with his schizophrenic father and his ‘nice’ mother negotiating life, not knowing what to do, steered by uncaring winds and pushy people. In the story, Ib tranforms into an ordinary man from an ordinary boy and along the way, tries to figure out life and understand himself.
Read more about the book here.

The City and the Sea

By Raj Kamal Jha
In the book, a young boy in a New Delhi neighbourhood waits for his mother, a journalist, who seems to have vanished after leaving work. Meanwhile in a small Baltic Coast town in Germany, the young boy’s mother awakens from a dream in her hotel room and finds herself trying to make sense of her circumstances. The book examines the aftermath of the Nirbhaya rape case in Delhi, through Jha’s impassioned fictional prose.
The book won the Tata Literature Live Book of the Year Award (Fiction), was shortlisted for DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019 and longlisted for the JCB Prize for Literature 2019. The JCB Prize jury said— “An emotional allegory of toxic masculinity and its aftermath, this novel provides rare insight into the other side of violence. Jha has chosen to write about a horrifying theme, and he finds an original and unusual language for the evanescent, shadowy feelings which persist after terror.”
Read more about the book here.

A Secret History of Compassion

By Paul Zacharia
In this first English novel by Kendra Sahitya Akademi and Kerala Sahitya Akademi awards recipient Malayalam writer Paul Zacharia, 41-year-old Lord Spider, an eminent writer of mysteries, thrillers and romances, Rosi, his wife and a freelancing philosopher, and Jesus Lambodara Pillai, a hangman, shapeshifter and aspiring writer, collaborate to write an essay on compassion for the Communist Party. It featured in the Longlist of the JCB Prize for Literature 2019, and has been described as “A dazzlingly inventive metafictional novel, and an irreverent look at the ideological inspirations that power us and our storytelling.”
Read more about the book here.

The Far Field

By Madhuri Vijay
Winner of the JCB Prize for Literature 2019, the Tata Literature Live First Book Award and Crossword Book Award for English Fiction in the Jury category; this book featured in the Shortlist of DSC Prize for Literature and has also been longlisted for Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2020.
The book follows Shalini, a privileged and restless young woman from Bengaluru, who after her mother’s death, sets out for a remote Himalayan village in Kashmir. She is certain that the loss of her mother is somehow connected to the decade-old disappearance of Bashir Ahmed, a charming Kashmiri salesman who frequented her childhood home, and so she sets out in search of him. But upon her arrival, Shalini is brought face to face with Kashmir’s politics, as well as the tangled history of the local family that takes her in.
Read more about the book here.
Also Read: Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2020: Madhuri Vijay and Meena Kandasamy on Longlist of the coveted Prize
Also Read: The longlist of the 2019 JCB Prize for Literature announced: Here is the list of selected novels to add to your reading list

The Scent of God

By Saikat Majumdar
The book is set in an elite all-boys’ boarding school run by a Hindu monastic order in late-twentieth century India, and follows Anirvan, who dreams of becoming a monk and while seeking his dream, finds himself drawn to a fellow student. The book blurb reads— “Two teenage boys grapple with their mutual attraction in a spiritual institution where same-sex relationships is [sic] criminalized.” This is a coming-of-age story of Anirvan and his spiritual and sexual awakening.
Read more about the book here.

There’s Gunpowder in the Air

By Manoranjan Byapari, translated from the Bengali by Arunava Sinha
The book is set in the early 1970s when the Naxalbari Movement is gathering strength in Bengal. Naxals are being arrested en masse and put into prisons. In one such jail, five Naxals are meticulously planning a jailbreak. But a petty thief has been planted as a mole among them by the newly appointed jailer. The petty thief’s loyalties are tested in the midst of this audacious jail break. This book also featured in the Shortlist of JCB Prize for Literature 2019 and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019.
The book blurb reads— “There’s Gunpowder in the Air is a searing investigation into what deprivation and isolation can do to human idealism. And Manoranjan Byapari is perhaps the most refreshing voice to emerge from Bengal in recent times.”
Read more about the book here.

Blue is like Blue

By Vinod Kumar Shukla, translated from the Hindi by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra & Sara Rai
This book is Sahitya Akademi Award winner Vinod Kumar Shukla’s only collection of short fiction and has also won the Atta Galatta – Bangalore Literature Festival Book Prize (Fiction) 2019. Arundhati Subramaniam, one of the members of the jury for this prize, described the book as a strikingly original piece of work and said, “What is so remarkable about this book is that it elevates things that are mundane, into the magical world. At the same time, it portrays life in a deceptively simple fashion while being subconscious.”
The stories in this book, set in a provincial small town in North India, dealing with ‘smaller-than-life’ people, come alive in English in Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and Sara Rai’s brilliant translation.
Read more about the book here.


The Dispatch is present across a number of social media platforms. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for exciting videos; join us on Facebook, Intagram and Twitter for quick updates and discussions. We are also available on the Telegram. Follow us on Pinterest for thousands of pictures and graphics. We care to respond to text messages on WhatsApp at 8082480136 [No calls accepted]. To contribute an article or pitch a story idea, write to us at [email protected] |Click to know more about The Dispatch, our standards and policies   
Shortlist of the Mathrubhumi Book of the Year Award 2020 announced: Know more about the shortlisted books