The Paradise of Food by Khalid Jawed translated by Baran Farooqi, published by Juggernaut, was announced the winner of the 25-lakh- JCB Prize for Literature, at the Oberoi, New Delhi. The winner was announced by Lord Bamford, Chairman, JCB, virtually, during the hybrid event, where the trophy was handed over to the winning author by Sunil Khurana, Chief Operating Officer, JCB India and AS Panneerselvan, Chair of Jury for 2022.
A bildungsroman of a man (and society) where food triggers memory and tragedy The Paradise of Food tells the story of a middle-class Muslim joint family over a span of fifty years where the narrator, whose life one follows from boyhood to old age, struggles to find a place for himself, at odds in his home and in the world outside.
The Paradise of Food is the fourth translation to win the award and the first work in Urdu. Khalid Jawed also received the Prize trophy, which is a sculpture by Delhi artist duo Thukral and Tagra, entitled ‘Mirror Melting.’
The book was selected by a panel of five judges, out of the JCB Prize’ most diverse shortlist yet by AS Panneerselvan (Jury Chair), Amitabha Bagchi, Dr. J Devika, Janice Pariat and Rakhee Balaram. Members of the jury were unanimous in their praise for The Paradise of Food.
Panneerselvan said of the book: “The Paradise of Food is a celebration of human spirit, hope, loss, aspirations, and anxiety. It is a fine artistic achievement where aesthetics negotiates a difficult political trajectory that is haunting our country. The carnivalesque element makes this a modern fable.”
While Pariat said she was “amazed, enthralled and thrilled” by it. Amitabha Bagchi called it: “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.”
Dr. J Devika said The Paradise of Food “works like a powerful ice-pick in the winter of civilizational crisis that has engulfed the countries of South Asia. And it does this by mobilising the poetic powers of Urdu, placing liberation above nation-building, which we think is the work of a novel. The translation is perfect and inspired.”
For Rakhee Balaram the work is of “indescribable brilliance.
Previous winners of the JCB Prize include Jasmine Days by Benyamin (translated from the Malayalam by Shahnaz Habib), The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay, Moustache by S. Hareesh (translated from the Malayalam by Jayasree Kalathil).