Groundbreaking JCB Prize for Literature opens for entries

India’s richest literary prize to celebrate and showcase Indian authors, break down language barriers

New Delhi: The inaugural JCB Prize for Literature is open for entries. Publishers across India are invited to enter novels for the prize, giving authors a chance to win Rs 25 lakhs, the country’s richest literary award. The annual prize is designed to discover and celebrate distinguished works of fiction by Indian writers, and to break down the barriers separating literature in different Indian languages – so showcasing the full cosmopolitan breadth of contemporary Indian literature for readers everywhere.

The prize, funded by India’s leading manufacturer of earthmoving and construction equipment, JCB India Ltd, and administered by the JCB Literature Foundation, is open for entries until 31st May 2018. Publishers have entry quotas for works written in English, and separately, for works translated into English from any other language. If the winning book is translated, the translator will be awarded Rs 5 lakhs. By recognising the full range of India’s literary traditions, the JCB Prize for Literature hopes to encourage future translations (both into English and between Indian languages) and therefore open up a truly Indian literature to readers.

Lord Bamford, Chairman of JCB says, “As JCB approaches the important milestone of 40 years of manufacturing in India, there is no better time to launch the JCB Prize for Literature. It’s my hope that, in some small way, this prize will encourage more and more people to read and also be of benefit to writers and publishers in this extraordinary country.”

Award-winning novelist and essayist Rana Dasgupta is Literary Director of the prize and is responsible for holding the prize to the highest literary standards. Each year, the Literary Director will appoint a jury, whose job is to read all entries and select a longlist (in September), a shortlist (in October) and then a winner (in November). The jury will consist of distinguished individuals from a variety of fields, who bring to their deliberations the experience of many different aspects of contemporary life.

This year’s jury consists of: award-winning film director Deepa Mehta (Chair), founder of the Murty Classical Library of India, Rohan Murty, Yale University astrophysicist and writer Priyamvada Natarajan, prominent novelist, Vivek Shanbhag, and author and translator, Arshia Sattar.

Books selected by the jury will be promoted in a visionary publicity campaign aimed not only at gaining many more readers for these important works, but also at raising the prestige and visibility of great literature itself. All shortlisted authors win Rs 1 lakh each.

Literary Director Rana Dasgupta says, “In a multilingual country like India, where there are many distinct literary traditions, no one can say they know ‘Indian literature’ if they read only books written in their own language. With this prize we hope to stimulate far more translation between Indian languages, and so to give people a far deeper sense of what other people are talking and thinking about in the country.”

The Literary Director is supported in his decisions by the Advisory Council of the JCB Literature Foundation. The Advisory Council is chaired by former Chief Mentor of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Tarun Das, who is accompanied by author Amitav Ghosh, Delhi University Professor of English Literature Dr. Harish Trivedi, and art historian and environmentalist Pheroza Godrej.

“With the exception of writers who have been made famous by prizes in the US and UK, literary achievement receives rather little attention in India,” says Tarun Das. “The JCB Prize for Literature will trigger a much larger conversation around books, authors and reading in India, and present readers each year with the greatest works published in the country.”

For information about the Prize and how to enter, please visit: