The AutHer Awards – a joint venture between JK Paper and Times of India — is a celebration of women authors who have added value and creativity to the literary space. The jury considered books by women published in India between December 2019 and November 2020.
The chairs for the AutHer Awards jury consisted of author Anand Neelakantan (Fiction), actor and author Kishwar Desai (Non-Fiction), columnist and author Kulpreet Yadav (Debut), and author Archana Garodia Gupta (Children’s books).
According to Kulpreet Yadav, “The shortlist consists of books that not only celebrate assured writing, sharp prose, and ambitious voices but also sheds light on both the art and craft of storytelling as well as an imaginative display of genius by writers unafraid of experimentation.”
“Creating a shortlist from such strongly written and well-researched subjects, from food to tribes to mental health to cinema to social issues to mythology to biographies was very exciting, and challenging. These shortlisted books indicate clearly that the breakthrough moment for women authors has arrived!” says Kishwar Desai.
While sharing her experience of the AutHer Awards, Archana Garodia Gupta says, “It was a privilege to read so much wonderful writing for children – Well researched, engaging and thought-provoking. Times Auther awards are performing a much needed public service by shining a spotlight on the very talented women in our country.”
Vinita Dawra Nangia, Literary Director of the Awards, says, “Perhaps neither the market situation nor reading habits reveal the true picture, but quality writing by women authors in India is gaining ground fast and awards such as the JK Paper-Times of India’s AutHer Awards give the much-needed fillip to women authors to take over this unique space in the literary landscape.”
Here is a look at the authors and their books that made it to the Shortlist under various categories.
‘Undertow’ by Jahnavi Barua (Penguin Random House India)
The novel is a delicate and poignant tale of a family that is as complicated as one could get and explores themes like the ever-evolving nature of love, home and the outside world and the insider and the outsider.
‘Bride of the Forest: The Untold Story of Yayati’s Daughter’ by Madhavi Mahadevan (Speaking Tiger)
The novel presents the strange story of Drishadvati, a girl whose fertility was traded repeatedly in exchange for invaluable horses. While the earlier versions depict her as a victim, here, Drishadvati is portrayed as a girl who is startlingly radical in her dismissal of patriarchy.
‘Memory of Light’ by Ruth Vanita (Penguin Random House India)
Set between the 18th and 19th century, the novel revolves around courtesans, poets, nawabs and most importantly, the memorable and exquisite love story of Nafis Bai and Chapla Bai.
‘Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line’ by Deepa Anappara (Penguin Random House India)
The novel is extraordinarily moving, flawlessly imagined and a triumph of suspense that draws on real incidents and a series of disappearances in metropolitan India.
2. ‘Analog/Virtual and Other Simulations of Your Future’ by Lavanya Lakshminarayan (Hachette India)
The brilliant and intense novel takes the readers to a dystopian future, offering a glimpse into a world they may be dangerously close to inheriting, making them question their choices and rethink who they want to be.
‘A Burning’ by Megha Majumdar (Penguin Random House India)
It is an exhilarating novel about three memorable characters who seek to rise to the middle class, to political power, and to fame in the movies.
‘Shivaji Park’ by Shanta Gokhale (Speaking Tiger)
In this wonderful book, the author draws upon a variety of accounts of chroniclers, residents and conquerors of one of Mumbai’s oldest and most vibrant neighbourhoods – Shivaji Park in Dakar.
‘Turmeric Nation’ by Shylashri Shankar (Speaking Tiger)
In this vibrant book, through a series of fascinating essays, the author traces the myriad patterns that have formed Indian food cultures, taste preferences and cooking traditions.
3. ‘The Lone Empress’ by Vaasanthi (Penguin Random House India)
The book candidly chronicles Jayalalithaa’s (Indian politician and actress) tumultuous political life, examining her battle with intra-party rivalry to become the first elected woman Chief Minister of India.
1. ‘Unearthed: An Environmental History of Independent India’ by Meghaa Gupta (Penguin Random House India)
The book wonderfully chronicles India’s historical movements and significant green missions since 1947 including Green Revolution, National Action Plan on Climate Change, etc.
2. ‘The Blue Horse’ by Nandini Sengupta (Hachette India)
The book takes the readers on a tour of Akbar’s dazzling court with his favourite cheetah – Samand Manik, narrates to them the heroic battle of Haldighati – straight from Chetak’s mouth and lets them find out what Chhatrapati Shivaji was really like – from his dog, Waghya.
3. ‘Unfair’ by Rasil Ahuja (Penguin Random House India)
The book celebrates self-love, accepting oneself and having body confidence via the story of best friends Lina and Meher who are ready to break all the biases and prejudices the society puts on those having dark skin tone.
The AutHer Awards winners will be announced at a grand ceremony in New Delhi. Cash prizes would be given to the top winners of all four categories and a Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to a woman author for her lasting contribution in the field of literature.
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