Moustache by S Hareesh, bagged the 2020 JCB prize for Literature. Originally published in Malayalam by DC Books, Meesha was translated into English by Jayasree Kalathil and published by Harper Collins. This is the second time in three years, the books published by DC Books is receiving the award. The inaugural JCB award was won by writer Benyamin and his English translator Shahnaz Habib for the novel Jasmine Days in 2018.
Moustache is as much about caste politics, oppression and gender parity as it is about the expansive landscape and changing ecology of south-west Kerala. The main character, Vavachan, is a lower cast individual who grows a moustache that takes on a life of epic proportion.
The winner receives a prize money of ₹25 lakhs and the translator gets an additional ₹10 lakhs. Each of the shortlisted writers receive ₹1 lakh and a shortlisted translator receives ₹50,000. Last year the prize was given to Madhuri Vijay for her novel The Far Field. This year’s jury includes, Tejaswini Niranjana, author and professor; Aruni Kashyap, author; Ramu Ramanathan, playwright and director; and Deepika Sorabjee, head of arts and culture portfolio at the Tata Trusts.