Introduction: Literary Awards
The literary scene in India is very vibrant, with a number of awards being given out every year to recognize excellence in writing. Throughout history, literary awards in India have been used to celebrate and promote certain types of writing. The first literary award in the world was given in 1643, and since then, they have become increasingly popular. There are now hundreds of different literary awards given out every year. While some awards are given for specific genres or styles of writing, others are more general. The most prestigious literary award is the Nobel Prize in Literature, which is given to an author who has “produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” Other notable literary awards include Sahitya Akademi Award, and the National Book Award. Here are some of the most prestigious literary awards in India.
List of Literary Awards in India
The Jnanpith Award is the oldest and highest Indian literary award, granted yearly to an author for their “great contribution to writing.” The prize, established in 1961, is only given to Indian writers who write in Indian languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Indian Constitution and English, with no posthumous conferral.
The most recent awardees are Assamese poet Nilmani Phookan and Konkani novelist Damodar Mauzo, for the years 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Official Website: http://www.jnanpith.net/
Sahitya Akademi Award
Since its foundation in 1954, the Sahitya Akademi Award has been given to the most exceptional works of literary value published in any of the Akademi’s recognised major Indian languages. The prize value, which had been Rs.5,000 since its establishment, was increased to Rs.10,000 in 1983, Rs.25,000 in 1988, Rs.40,000 in 2001, Rs.50,000 in 2003, and is currently Rs.1,000,000 in 2009. The inaugural Awards were handed out in 1955. It honours and encourages excellence in Indian literature. This year, the prize was given to 24 people, including Anuradha Sarma Pujari and Namita Gokhale.
Official Website: https://sahitya-akademi.gov.in/
The Hindu Literary Prize
The Hindu Literary Prize or The Hindu Best Fiction Award, established in 2010, is an Indian literary award sponsored by The Hindu Literary Review which is part of the newspaper The Hindu. It recognizes Indian works in English and English translation. The first year, 2010, the award was called The Hindu Best Fiction Award. Starting in 2018 a non-fiction category was included. The Hindu has long been dedicated to supporting good writing, both in English and in Indian languages, which is highlighted in the Literary Review. In 2010, the Literary Review celebrated its 20th anniversary by proposing an award to honour the best of Indian writing in English. In addition, the Hindu Literary Prize was established to honour writers who have dedicated their lives exploring the human spirit via their words and thoughts.
Official Website: https://www.thehindulfl.in/the-hindu-prize/
Crossword Book Award
The next award in our list is ‘Crossword Book Award’. The Indian Award recognises and awards excellent writing while also promoting Indian authors and their works. It was founded in 1998 by Indian book store Crossword with the goal of creating a reward comparable to Western literary honours such as the Pulitzer Prize. Initially envisioned as a single prize for fiction written in English by an Indian, it began to recognise works of fiction published in any Indian language and translated into English in the year 2000. In 2010, the award was expanded to include a prize for children’s literature.
Recently, author Madhuri Vijay has won the prestigious Crossword Book Award for her debut novel about Kashmir, entering the pantheon of great Indian writers such as Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, and Kiran Desai.
JCB Prize for Literature
The Literary Director picks a jury of renowned persons from many sectors of Indian social and intellectual life each year. Every jury member reads every novel submitted for the Prize. The jury alone is in charge of picking the longlist of ten, shortlist of five, and winner. The JCB Prize for Literature was founded in 2018 as an Indian literary award. It is a $2,500,000 (US$31,000) prize given yearly to a noteworthy piece of fiction by an Indian writer working in English or translated fiction by an Indian writer. The winners will be revealed in November, with shortlists released in October and longlists announced in September. It has been described as “India’s most valuable literary prize.” Rana Dasgupta is the JCB Prize’s first Literary Director. Mita Kapur was named the new Literary Director in 2020.
Official Website: https://www.thejcbprize.org/
The Saraswati Samman
The Saraswati Samman is an annual prize given for exceptional literary works in any of the 22 Indian languages mentioned in Schedule VIII of the Indian Constitution. It takes its name from an Indian goddess of wisdom. The K. K. Birla Foundation established the Saraswati Samman in 1991. On April 7, 2022, Ramdarsh Mishra was awarded the Saraswati Samman for 2021 for his collection of poems “In Toh Here Hoon.”
Sahitya Gaurav Puraskar
In Gujarat, India, the Sahitya Gaurav Puraskar, commonly known as the Sahitya Gaurav Award, is a literary award. Gujarat Sahitya Akademi and the Government of Gujarat bestow this honour on Gujarati authors who have made important contributions to Gujarati literature. In Gujarat, India, the Sahitya Gaurav Puraskar, commonly known as the Sahitya Gaurav Award, is a literary award. Gujarat Sahitya Akademi and the Government of Gujarat bestow this honour on Gujarati authors who have made important contributions to Gujarati literature.
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Importance of Literary Awards in India
Whether they win or not, this exposure is vital to new authors as well as those who would otherwise go unnoticed. Award ceremonies and the attention that surrounds them not only honour writers for their efforts, but they also introduce new readers to their works. In short, awards are important. The effect of a nomination alone, though, is more startling. With only a spot on the Booker shortlist, a book goes from obscurity in the classroom and literary criticism to respectable showings in both—and it gains a healthy popularity bump along the way.
While literary awards can be a great way to promote and celebrate writing, they also have their drawbacks. One of the biggest criticisms of literary awards is that they are often given to well-known or established authors, rather than new or unknown authors who are mostly self publishing their books. This can create a feeling of elitism and exclusivity around literary awards, which can be frustrating for emerging authors. What are your thoughts on literary awards? Have you ever won or been nominated for one? Well, if you are not aware of such awards, you may visit their websites as mentioned above.