Perumal Murugan. (Image by Arrangement)
Firebird by Perumal Murugan has won the 2023 edition of the prestigious JCB Prize for Literature.
The award consists of a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh for the author and Rs 10 lakh for the translator.
Translated from the nearly untranslatable Aalandapatchi by Janani Kannan, which alludes to a mystical bird in Tamil, the titular fire bird is all about one man’s search for the elusive concept of permanence. Muthu has his world turned upside down when his father divides the family land, leaving him with practically nothing and causing irreparable damage to his family’s bonds.
Firebird is published by Penguin India Hamish Hamilton.
Speaking on the occasion, Swati Thiyagarajan who was on the jury said: It’s a powerful evocative story of the ordinary life. A quest for land, belonging and home after leaving family, community and the familiar. For readers in English, and not from rural Tamil Nadu, it’s an immersion into a world, a time, a place that will enrich your understanding of a part of our country in a way that you will carry it with you long after you turn the last page.
Kudos to Perumal and Janani for producing this extraordinary work!