January 28, 2021
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Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize Shortlist Announced

The 6 shortlisted books are a testimony to the quality and diversity of non-fiction writing in and about India.

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Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize Shortlist Announced
NIF Book Prize Shortlist
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Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize Shortlist Announced

The New India Foundation announced the shortlist for the third edition of the ‘Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize’, recognising and celebrating excellence in non-fiction writings on modern/ contemporary India. The 6 shortlisted books are a testimony to the quality and diversity of non-fiction writing in and about India.

The Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay Book Prize celebrates high-quality, non-fiction literature by emerging writers from all nationalities, published in the previous calendar year. Established in 2018, the Book Prize carries a cash award of INR 15 lacs and a citation.

According to a release, this year’s longlist of 12 titles exhibited the incredible breadth and quality of narratives in and about India, and the jury has shortlisted 6 compelling books. The shortlist covers a century of modern Indian history and encompasses several genres—biography and investigative reportage, environment histories, anthropology and history—as well as a variety of themes that blend the country‘s complex past to aspirations for the future.

This year’s eminent jury includes political scientist and author Niraja Gopal Jayal (Chair), historian and critically acclaimed author Ramachandra Guha; entrepreneur and author Nandan Nilekani; historian and author Srinath Raghavan; historian and author Nayanjot Lahiri; and Manish Sabharwal, Chairman, Teamlease Services.

According to the Jury, ”The Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay prize short-list demonstrates the range and quality of non-fiction writing about modern India, from political biography to the sociology of politics, from investigative journalism to the history of ecology and of technology”.

The six books shortlisted for the Prize are:

  • Mobilizing the Marginalized: Ethnic Parties without Ethnic Movements by Amit Ahuja (Oxford University Press)
  • Midnight's Machines: A Political History of Technology in India by Arun Mohan Sukumar (Penguin Random House)
  • The Unquiet River: A Biography of the Brahmaputra by Arupjyoti Saikia (Oxford University Press)
  • A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of V.K. Krishna Menon by Jairam Ramesh (Penguin Random House)
  • Bottle of Lies: Ranbaxy and the Dark Side of Indian Pharma by Katherine Eban (Juggernaut)
  • Wild Himalaya: A Natural History of the Greatest Mountain Range on Earth by Stephen Alter (Aleph)


The Kamaladevi NIF Book Prize builds on the New India Foundation’s mission of sponsoring high-quality research and writing on all aspects of Independent India. The prize was named after Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, the great patriot, and institution-builder who had contributed significantly to the freedom struggle, to the women’s movement, to refugee rehabilitation and to the renewal of handicrafts. Previous winners include Milan Vaishnav for his remarkable debut -When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics (HarperCollins Publishers) in 2018; and Ornit Shani for her scholarly work- How India Became Democratic (Penguin Random House) in 2019. The final winner will be announced in early December 2020.

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