Khalid Jawed’s The Paradise of Food has been awarded the JCB Prize for Literature 2022. The book was chosen by a panel of five judges.
The Paradise of Food has been translated into English from Urdu by Baran Farooqi and published by Juggernaut. The Rs 25 lakh prize was awarded to the author virtually by Sunil Khurana, chief operating officer, JCB India, and A.S. Panneerselvan, chair of the jury for 2022, at a hybrid event organised at The Oberoi, New Delhi. Khalid Jawed also received the trophy — a sculpture titled ‘Mirror Melting’ by Delhi artist duo Thukral and Tagra.
The Paradise of Food, which is the fourth translation to win the JCB Prize and the first in Urdu, is a bildungsroman that traces the narrator’s journey through life anchored in a middle-class Muslim joint family.
The jury comprised Panneerselvan, journalist, editor and columnist; author Amitabha Bagchi; J Devika, historian, feminist, social critic and academician; author Janice Pariat and Rakhee Balaram, assistant professor, Global Art and Art History at the University of Albany, State University of New York. The award ceremony began with a welcome note from Mita Kapur, literary director of the JCB Prize, and an address by Deepak Shetty, CEO & managing director, JCB India. Classical dance performances by Shriram Bhartiya Kala Kendra led up to the grand announcement.
Speaking about the merit of The Paradise of Food as a piece of literature, Bagchi commented, “This singular and moving book shines a scintillating light on the violence at the heart of human civilisation. The language contains several beautiful and unusual formulations that are a literary achievement by both the author and the extremely skilled translator. A literary landmark in a less-celebrated genre of Urdu’s grand literary tradition, this work deserves to be widely read in India and beyond.”
Other members of the jury, too, unanimously appreciated Jawed’s book. Rakhee Balaram described the work as a “book of indescribable brilliance” and to J. Devika, it was a “powerful ice-pick in the winter of civilisational crisis that has engulfed the countries of South Asia”.