Kochi: Malayalam author S Hareesh has won the JCB Prize for Literature 2020 for his debut novel Moustache. Hareesh will receive Rs 25 lakh. The translator of the book, Jayasree Kalathil won an additional Rs 10 lakh. Moustache, published by Harper Collins, is the translation of Hareesh’s noted Malayalam work Meesha. Writer Benyamin’s Jasmin Days, translated by Shahnaz Habib had won the JCB Prize in 2018.

Moustache was among five shortlisted books for this year. The other four are Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, by Deepa Anappara; Chosen Spirits, by Samit Basu; These, Our Bodies, Possessed by Light, by Dharini Bhaskar; and Prelude to a Riot, by Annie Zaidi. The jury comprised Tejaswini Niranjan (chair), Aruni Kashyap, Ramu Ramanathan, and Deepika Sorabjee.

Moustache is an astonishing and very original book. I don’t know any other novel that is actually written in this way. It is political but also a feat in storytelling… Moustache will be discussed for sure for its representation of caste politics, magic realism or folklore, the community, history of an underrepresented region called Kuttanad; but I will remember this book for its daring storytelling. I’m delighted that an unruly novel, a misbehaving novel that defies our conventional understanding and expectations of what a novel should be, is taking this prize,” Said Kashyap.