The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2016 has been awarded to senior journalist at the Times of India, Akshaya Mukul for his book Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India.
The judges, authors Samanth Subramanian, Mahesh Rao and Janice Pariat, chose this book for its “eye-opening and captivating exploration into a parallel literary culture that can often feel at a great remove from English-speaking metropolitan India”.
“Mukul’s book was a highly original and commendable work involving a dogged determination to set out the many particularities of the Gita Press and the colourful personalities that drove its agenda. It is also a book that is relevant to cultural homogenisation across the ages, since at its heart it reveals what it takes to be a cultural mythmaker, and how a specific nexus of religious, caste and linguistic considerations have reaped extraordinary rewards,” they added.
Other authors on the shortlist were Manu S. Pillai for The Ivory Throne, Madhu Gurung for The Keeper of Memories, Sophia Khan for Yasmeen, Nisid Hajari for Midnight’s Furies and Kanishk Tharoor for Swimmer Among the Stars.
Mukul also won the best non-fiction book prize for Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India at the Ramnath Goenka awards, where he boycotted the event because the awards were distributed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I thought it was a bit too much to receive a journalism award from a man so contemptuous of journalists,” Mukul had said at the time.