Ramanujan Prize

A.K. Ramanujan Book Prize for Translation

A.K. Ramanujan (1929–1993) was born and educated in Mysore, India. He taught at the University of Chicago for more than three decades, where he served as the chairman of the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. He earned the Padma Shri in 1976 and a MacArthur Fellowship in 1983. In recognition of the excellence of his translations, the South Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies has established the A.K. Ramanujan Book Prize for Translation, awarded biennially.

Prize

$1,000 award for the translator.

Guidelines for Submission

  • Only books bearing a copyright date of 2021 or 2022 will be eligible for the 2024 awards.
  • Publishers must complete the book nomination form.
  • Each press may nominate a maximum of six books for the Ramanujan Prize.
  • Only publishers may nominate books.
  • Upon receipt of a completed nomination form, publishers will be provided with addresses for prize committee members. A copy of each entry, clearly labeled “A.K. Ramanujan Book Prize,” must be sent to each member of the appropriate committee.

There is no Ramanujan Prize competition for 2023. Information about nominating books for the 2024 awards will be posted in spring 2023.


2022 Awards

Winner and Citation

Cover image of Archana Venkatesan, Endless Song

Archana Venkatesan, Endless Song: Nammāḻvār’s Tiruvȳmoḻi  (Penguin India, 2020)

We are pleased to announce that Archana Venkatesan’s Endless Song: Nammāḻvār’s Tiruvāymoḻi is the winner of the 2022 A.K. Ramanujan Prize for Translation. Venkatesan’s pathbreaking work is the first complete literary translation of the poem to be published in English. Nammāḻvār’s long poem is the central masterpiece of Tamil Vaiṣṇava bhakti verse, consisting of a cycle of poems in which the poet-devotee alternately speaks in his own voice and adopts a series of personae drawn from the tradition of the Caṅkam poetry of earlier Tamil. The Tiruvāymoḻi presents its translator with particular challenges: combining the classical poetics of Tamil with narrative and theological frameworks drawn from the Sanskrit epics and purāṇas, embedded within the real network of mid-first millennium southern temple cultures, its translation demands great erudition as well as literary sensitivity. The challenges are formal as well: each of the long poem’s 1100 individual verses is connected to those preceding and following it through linking words, as are its first and final verse—thus the “endless song” of Venkatesan’s title. Building on her earlier translations of Āṇṭāḷ and the Tiruviruttam, a shorter work of Nammāḻvār’s, Venkatesan’s work meets these challenges with complete authority and succeeds in creating a home for Nammāḻvār’s Vaiṣṇava devotion in a lucid, authentic register of contemporary speech. Her free-verse renderings of the individual verses succeed wonderfully at conveying Nammāḻvār’s concision and lyrical intensity, while giving voice to his love for his god in its many difference voices and modes. Venkatesan’s volume is also a major contribution to scholarship, supplying its readers with a running commentary and a large apparatus of tables, showing the internal connections that bind this highly self-referential work together. She also includes a useful introduction to the commentarial scholarship on the Tiruvāymoḻi and translations of short poems on the work and its author. As both a work of great learning and a new benchmark for literary translations of early Dravidian literature, Venkatesan’s Endless Song is a major contribution to work in English on South Asian classical literature.

Honorable Mention

Philip Lutgendorf, Tulsidās, The Epic of Rām, vol. 5 (Harvard University Press, 2022)

Past Awards

A.K. Ramanujan Book Prize for Translation

1996 Rajagopal Parthasarathy, Cilappatikaram of Ilanko Atikal (The Tale of an Anklet)

1998 Patrick Olivelle, Upanisads

2000 Stuart Blackburn, Fatal Rumour: A Nineteenth-Century Indian Novel

2002 George L. Hart and Hank Heifetz, The Four Hundred Songs of War and Wisdom

2004 Velchuru Narayana Rao and David Shulman, Classic Telegu Poetry: An Anthology

2006 Clinton B. Seely, The Slaying of Meghanada: A Ramayana from Colonial Bengal

2008 Julius J. Lipner, Anandamath, or The Sacred Brotherhood

2010 Steven P. Hopkins, An Ornament for Jewels: Love Poems for the Lord of Gods by Vedantdesika

2012 Cristi A. Merrill, Chouboli and Other Stories by Vijaydan Detha

2014 Martha Ann Selby, Tamil Love Poetry: The Five Hundred Short Poems of the Ainkurunuru

2016 Lakshmi Holmström, Children, Women, Men

2018 Kenneth E. Bryant  and  John S. Hawley, Surdas, Sur’s Ocean: Poems from the Early Tradition

2020 Robert P. Goldman and Sally J. Sutherland Goldman, The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India — Vol. VII: Uttarakāṇḍa

The AAS Secretariat is closed on Thursday, November 24th, and Friday, November 25th, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.