The AutHer Awards – a joint venture between JK Paper and The 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 2021 and November 2022.
The chairs for the AutHer Awards jury consisted of actress-author Sonali Bendre Behl (Fiction); author Vikram Sampath (Non-Fiction); Priti Paul (Debut); and author Ranjit Lal (Children’s books).
Talking about the awards, Sonali Bendre Behl, Jury Chair- Fiction category, said, “The AutHer Awards is a wonderful initiative to recognize and encourage women authors. It’s an honour to be Jury Chair for the fiction books – it’s my favourite genre and it was an absolute pleasure to read the selection this year. There were so many new voices, new styles of writing, and each had its own distinct flavour. Some of them really resonated strongly with me, with beautifully written prose, and I wish all the authors all the very best.”
While, talking about the shortlisted books, Ranjit Lal, Jury Chair- Children’s category, said, “An eclectic collection of stories that should encourage children to bury their noses in the books! Mythology seems to be a favourite subject with children’s authors these days. The three top rankers ran a very close race indeed!”
And, Vikram Sampath, Jury Chair- Non-fiction category, said, “It was truly an honour to head the Non-fiction jury of the unique and one of it’s kind AutHer Awards that celebrates the best of women writers in contemporary India. Jury members Ramesh Sharma, Prabha Chandran and I loved reading the wide and eclectic range of books in this category that ranged from biographies, history, memoirs to contemporary societal issues and politics. It was a tough task for us to zero in on the longlist and subsequent filters down to the final winner.”
The other jury members in various categories include: Navtej Sarna (Fiction), Jonathan Gil Harris (Fiction), Ramesh Sharma (Non-fiction), Prabha Chandran (Non-fiction), Lillete Dubey (Debut), Sunit Tandon (Debut), Swati Roy (Children’s category), and Dalbir K Madan (Children’s category).
According to Vinita Dawra Nangia, Literary Director – AutHer Awards, “AutHer Awards is a wonderful celebration of the power of a woman who wields her pen (metaphorically speaking of course!) The increasing number of entries every year reassure us that more and more women are using writing as a means of expressing themselves and telling their stories. Writing is not about winning awards, but AutHer Awards is our way of encouraging and celebrating all women who write. May the writing women’s tribe grow!”
Here is a look at the authors and their books that made it to the Shortlist under various categories (in alphabetical order):
AutHer Award 2023 Shortlist for Fiction:
1. ‘Independence’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
As the title suggests, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s latest novel is set against India’s independence movement. This is a moving story of three sisters and their unbreakable bond amidst a nation about to be born. When India is partitioned, the sisters find themselves separated from one another, afraid of what will happen to not only thems, but also each other.
2. ‘Everything the Light Touches’ by Janice Pariat
‘Everything the Light Touches’ follows the story of four people who are separated by time and place, but share a common love for travel and ecology– Their connection transcends time. The story touches upon various themes like botany, travel, urban and rural life, capitalism, and more.
3. ‘Black River’ by Nilanjana S. Roy
Nilanjana S. Roy’s ‘Black River’ is a murder mystery and a psychological thriller. Famed as a police procedural, ‘Black River’ is a tale of a little girl Munia in the midst of change, class divide, the terror of religious strife, and relentless violence against women.
AutHer Award 2023 Shortlist for Non-fiction:
1. ‘Chemical Khichdi: How I Hacked My Mental Health’ by Aparna Piramal Raje
Part memoir and part self-help guide, ‘Chemical Khichdi’ provides a pathway for anyone with a mental health condition and the family, friends, colleagues, and medical professionals that love and care for them. Empathetic, candid and accessible, it outlines ‘seven therapies’ that have enabled the protagonist to ‘hack’ her mental health and find equilibrium over the years.
2. ‘To Hell and Back: Humans of COVID’ by Barkha Dutt
‘To Hell and Back: Humans of COVID’ is a classic book on India’s pandemic. When India’s lockdown was first announced, acclaimed journalist Barkha Dutt started an extraordinary series of road trips, recording the human story of the pandemic. In this book, she tells India’s pandemic story through the stories of the people she covered and draws a startling picture not just of our plague years but the very nature of our country with its deep-rooted inequalities across class, caste, and gender.
3. ‘Rani Durgawati: The Forgotten Life of a Warrior Queen’ by Nandini Sengupta
‘Rani Durgawati’ is a tale about the forgotten life of a warrior queen of a tribal kingdom. The feisty and formidable Rani Durgawati lives on in the folk tales and songs of her people. These songs and tales have now been used by Nandini Sengupta to create a meticulously researched and accessible written biography of a forgotten female hero and one of India’s most underrated monarchs.
AutHer Award 2023 Shortlist for Debut:
1. ‘The Death of Kirti Kadakia: A Temple Hill Mystery’ by Meeti Shroff-Shah
‘The Death of Kirti Kadakia’, a Temple Hill mystery, unearths the secrets and lies lurking beneath the diamond-studded satsangs and the lavishly catered ‘pure-veg’ brunches, and exposes the dual lives we often live all in midst of a suicide.
2. ‘Half-Blood’ by Pronoti Datta
Set in the teeming, varied universe that is Bombay, ‘Half-Blood’ is an entertaining novel about dysfunctional families, plucky survivors, chancers, mavericks and good-hearted rogues. This debut is a celebration of vitality, impurity and other true virtues of life.
3. ‘The Immortal King Rao: A Novel’ by Vauhini Vara
‘The Immortal King Rao’ is a resonant debut novel obliterating the boundaries between literary and speculative fiction, the historic and the dystopian, confronting how we arrived at the age of technological capitalism and where our actions might lead us.
AutHer Award 2023 Shortlist for Children
1. ‘Savi and the Memory Keeper’ by Bijal Vachharajani
‘Savi and the Memory Keeper’ is a funny, thoughtful and deeply moving tale with a unique blend of fantasy and actual science. This novel explores both personal grief in the face of family loss and collective grief in the face of climate crisis, and how the only way to move forward is through friendship of all kinds.
2. ‘Children of the Hidden Land’ by Mandira Shah
Unflinching, tender and action-packed, ‘Children of the Hidden Land’ is a story about two girls who overcome their prejudices to question their existing ideas about nation, friendship and ambition. Above all, it is a story of hope and courage.
3. ‘Batata, Pao and All Things Portuguese’ by Vaishali Shroff
This is an illustrated graphic book on Goa’s history which has a huge influence of Portugal. Watch places, monuments, ruins, and random objects come to life as you read this book.
The AutHer Awards winners will be announced at a grand ceremony in New Delhi on March 19, 2023. Cash prizes will be given to the top winners in all four categories and a Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to a woman author for her lasting contribution in the field of literature.
For more details, log on to: https://autherawards.in/