Tata Literature Live: The fest announces its annual awards

The fest held on a digital platform for the first time due to the pandemic, hosted 192 writers, thinkers and performers from India and across the world.

The week-long Tata Literature Live! Festival came to an end Sunday evening with the announcement of its annual awards, which are among the most prestigious literary honours in the country.

The award for the Book of the Year, in the fiction category, was presented to writer Annie Zaidi for Prelude to a Riot (Aleph Book Company, 2019), where she explores religious intolerance through the story three generations of two families, one Hindu and the other Muslim, whose lives are changed forever as their town is marked by communal violence.

Carnatic vocalist and writer TM Krishna’s Sebastian & Sons: A Brief History of Mrdangam Makers (2019, Westland) was deemed the book of the year in the non-fiction category. Here Krishna investigates the history of the mrdangam, the primary instrument integral to the Carnatik stage, and meets the the mrdangam makers, many of them from Dalit Christian communities, who remain on the fringes of the community.

Deepa Anappara’s Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line won the first book award. Published by Penguin Random House, the novel, which makes use of several genres such as detective fiction, mystery, satire, and Bildungsroman, revolves around the lives of children living in a slum in a fictional Indian city, who are in a search for a classmate who has disappeared. A review in The New York Times noted that Djinn Patrol “announces the arrival of a literary supernova”.

In the Non-Fiction category, the First Book Award was presented to Taran N Khan’s Shadow City: A Woman Walks Kabul. First arriving in Kabul in the spring of 2006, five years after the Taliban government was overthrown, Khan writes about the city’s poets, archaeologists and filmmakers, the glitter of wedding halls, the imperilled beauty of a Buddhist monastery, takes us inside a beauty salon, and through the book markets.

The Business Book of the Year award was presented to Hero Enterprise’s Chairman Sunil Kant Munjal for writing The Making of Hero: Four Brothers, Two Wheels and a Revolution that Shaped India, where he documents the history of his family and the business, tracing it to the 1940s, when the Munjals escaped from the rugged landscapes of Quetta, now in Pakistan, and settled in Ludhiana, with the aim to survive, and over the next decades created one of the largest automobile companies in India.

Celebrated writer Ruskin Bond was conferred with the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award for 2020, while the poet and screenwriter Javed Akhtar was honoured with the Poet Laureate award “for his sustained and outstanding contribution to poetry in India”. The publisher of the year award was presented to Penguin Random House.

With its annual debate focusing on the issue of ‘India’s Democracy is in Danger’, the festival covered a variety of issues this year — from migration to Dalits in music, artificial intelligence, trial by media, LGBTQ Inclusion in the Workplace, mental health, writing plays for differently abled actors, nationalism. Literature Live!, founded by Anil Dharker in 2010, organises the Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest. The 11th edition, from November 16 to 22, hosted 192 writers, thinkers and performers from India and across the world, was on a digital platform for the first time due to the pandemic.

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