This week’s blog post will be very brief as a function of my extreme exhaustion – just been up and down to Bangalore for the Neev Literature Festival 2019. Beijing-Bangalore is not a commute I’d recommend to anyone who prizes their sleep or sanity but WOW what an intense 2 days it was.
The theme this year was “Taking Children’s Literature Seriously” and I’ll write a bit more about the rest of the festival another time.
For now I just want to highlight the winners:
After a year of reading the long lists and short lists in four categories the awards were announced on Saturday for this year’s winners. I must say it was a surprisingly emotional moment even for me just as one of the jurors, I can’t imagine what it must be like for the authors!
There’s been a bit written recently about literary prizes – “Who Cares about Literary Prizes” is a wonderful article combining the idea of “canon” and popularity in this context with some very cool data representation. Book Prizes, the more the merrier, and A guide to the most prestigious prizes.
Book buyers, librarians, teachers, parents tend to rely on a fairly narrow range of sources for their book purchasing decisions. One of those is lists, and the other prize winners (and often lists of prize winners). In this context the existence of speciality or niche book prizes is incredibly important to shed light on otherwise neglected corners of excellent children’s literature.
Since Ahimsa is already relatively well known in international children’s literature circles, I’m going to just put in a few words about the other three books.
Machher Jhol is a richly illustrated book showing the journey of a young boy through the roads of Kolkata to get the ingredients for a fish stew for his father. There is a wonderful twist to this tale that will make it beloved of any class looking for books on resilience.
When Jiya met Urmila is written for that space of emerging readers where very few authors manage to successfully tell a great story but make the writing accessible to the beginning reader. The story gently probes how segregated childrens’ lives can be.
Year of the Weeds is one of those books that I can see becoming part of a canon of middle grade / young adult books that are used in the classroom to promote thinking about globalisation, sustainable development goals of economic growth (8); industry and infrastructure (9); sustainable cities and communities (11) responsible consumption and production (12); and Life on land (15) – while still being an excellent read. The link above goes to a very interesting interview with the author.
Another thing that awards do – reward publishers for taking chances on genres, topics and authors. This year Duckbill publishers had two award winning books – here’s hoping they continue to bet on this calibre of writing AND even more importantly that their books get attention and distribution outside of India, because the world needs these books.
In response to requests – here is where to find the books:
I will be sharing an email to contact if you are interested in buying the short-list or finalists in multiple copies.
In addition if you’re interested in other books:
Here is the short list: